Archives for category: Sean McVay

They’re still standing.

New England (7-0) and San Francisco (6-0) remain as the only two unbeaten teams in the NFL. Both teams took road wins last week and both teams pitched shutouts in last week’s play. Fall is in the air. Leaves are changing color, air’s getting cooler, hot Cider and Pumpkin pie are being served and in a weeks, Halloween will be upon us.

While those two teams are enjoying the fruits of their labors, Miami and Cincinnati, both winless, search for their first win and hope that they don’t get a rock in their sacks, like Charlie Brown. It’s week eight in the 2019 NFL season and while most teams are struggling, there’s still hope for either a divisional title, a Wild Card spot or another off-season second-guessing themselves. We’re near the halfway point and as a reminder, a football season is a marathon, not a sprint.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 7: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 429 yards with five touchdowns, including the 350th of his career and no interceptions for a 158.3 rating, the highest attainable mark and added a rushing touchdown in the Packers’ 42-24 win over Oakland. Appearing in his 172nd career game, Rodgers surpassed Drew Brees (180 games) as the fastest quarterback to reach 350 career touchdown passes in NFL history.

Rodgers is the third player with at least 400 passing yards, five touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown in a single game in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin (Week 1, 1951) and Mark Rypien (Week 11, 1991). He is also the third player in the Super Bowl era with five passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game, joining Rypien and Mark Malone (Week 1, 1985). Rodgers now has 22 career games with at least four touchdown passes, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (21 games) for the fifth-most such games in NFL history.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 337 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 141.1 rating in the Vikings’ 42-30 win at Detroit. Cousins, who passed for 306 yards with a 138.6 passer rating in Week 5 and had 333 passing yards and a 138.4 rating in Week 6, is the first quarterback to record at least 300 passing yards and a passer rating of 135 or higher in three consecutive games in NFL history.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Staffird passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in the loss. Stafford, who has 40,277 career passing yards in 147 career games, is the first player in NFL history to reach 40,000 career passing yards in 150 games or fewer.

Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones, Jr. had four touchdown receptions in Week 7. Jones, who also had four touchdown catches in Week 8 of the 2013 season with Cincinnati, is the fourth player to have at least four touchdown receptions in two career games in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (two games) as well as Sterling Sharpe (two) and Bob Shaw (two).

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for 143 yards and rushed for 116 yards with a touchdown in the Ravens’ 30-16 win at Seattle. Jackson, who has 576 rushing yards in 2019 and had 695 yards as a rookie in 2018, is the second quarterback in NFL history with at least 500 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons, joining Cam Newton (2011-12).

In his Ravens debut, cornerback Marcus Peters registered a 67-yard interception return for a touchdown. It marked the fifth interception-return touchdown of his career, tied for the third-most by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers Ken Houston (nine) and Lem Barney (six) had more. Peters, who had a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown with the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4, is the first player in NFL history to record an interception return for a touchdown for two different teams in a single season.

Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook had 149 scrimmage yards (142 rushing, seven receiving) and two rushing touchdowns in the Vikings’ 42-30 win at Detroit, while Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette totaled 145 scrimmage yards (131 rushing, 14 receiving) in the Jaguars’ 27-17 win at Cincinnati.

Three players – Cook (945 scrimmage yards), Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey (923) and Fournette (918) – each have at least 900 scrimmage yards through Week 7. It marks the fourth time that at least three players have had at least 900 scrimmage yards through the first seven weeks of a season in NFL history.

The other three seasons with at least three players totaling 900 or more scrimmage yards through the first seven weeks: 1983 (four players – Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Walter Payton as well as William Andrews and Joe Cribbs), 2002 (four – Pro Football Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson as well as Priest Holmes and Ricky Williams) and 2003 (three – Ahman Green, Holmes and Jamal Lewis).

San Francisco earned a 9-0 win at Washington in Week 7 and advanced to 6-0 for the first time since 1990, when they began the season 10-0. The 49ers held the Redskins to 154 net yards of offense in the win. San Francisco is the sixth team since 1990 and the first since the 2005 New England Patriots (Weeks 13-15) to allow seven or fewer points and 200 or fewer net yards of offense in three consecutive games.

Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones had a career-high four sacks along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the Cardinals’ 27-21 win at the New York Giants. Jones is the fifth player with four sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in a single game since 2000, joining Adrian Clayborn (2017), Aaron Donald (2018), Justin Houston (2013) and Simeon Rice (2003).

Chicago wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Bears’ Week 7 loss against New Orleans. It marked the seventh career kick return touchdown for Patterson, tied for the third-most in NFL history. Only Josh Cribs (eight) and Leon Washington (eight) had more.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 8

DOMINANT DEFENSE: Entering Week 8, undefeated New England (7-0) lead the league in both points for per game (31.9) and points against per game (6.9).

Against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the Patriots can become the first team to average more than 30 points per game and allow fewer than 10 points per game through eight games of a season since the 1962 Green Bay Packers.

Additionally, New England’s point differential (+175) is the second-highest at this point of a season in NFL history, trailing only the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans (+218). With a win on Sunday, New England can continue its historic point differential pace and jump into the top five in NFL history through their first eight games.

The teams with the highest point differential through their first eight games of a season in NFL history:

TEAM – SEASON (POINT DIFFERENTIAL)
Buffalo All-Americans – 1920 (+215)
New England – 2007 (+204)
Chicago Bears – 1942 (+189)
Chicago Bears – 1941 (+187)
Green Bay – 1962 (+182)
New England – 2019 (+175)*
*Through seven games

New England also tops the NFL in turnover differential (+14), led by safety Devin McCourty’s league-high five interceptions. With a positive turnover differential on Sunday, New England can move into the top five for the highest turnover margin through eight games since 1970.

The teams with the largest turnover margin through eight games since 1970:

TEAM – SEASON (TURNOVER MARGIN)
Baltimore Colts – 1977 (+22)
Cincinnati – 2005 (+20)
Denver – 1984 (+18)
Kansas City – 2003 (+18)
Minnesota – 1983 (+17)
New England – 2019 (+14)*
*Through seven games

MINING THEIR BUSINESS: San Francsico enters Week 8 as the lone undefeated team (6-0) in the NFC. San Francisco’s defense has allowed 223.5 total net yards per game – more than 100 fewer yards per game than any other team in the NFC (Dallas, 324.9) – and has limited their opponents to fewer than 200 total net yards of offense in each of the past three games.

With fewer than 200 total net yards allowed on Sunday against Carolina, San Francisco would become the sixth team to allow fewer than 200 total net yards of offense in at least four consecutive games since 1970. Three of the previous five teams to do so went on to win the Super Bowl.

The teams with the most consecutive games limiting opponents to 200 or fewer total net yards of offense since 1970:

TEAM (SEASON(S), GAMES)
Pittsburgh (1974-75, 5)#
Dallas (1977, 4)#
Dallas (1973-74; 4)
Miami (1972, 4)#
New England (2005, 4)
San Francisco (2019, 3)*
*Active streak
#Won Super Bowl

To continue its streak of games allowing fewer than 200 total net yards of offense on Sunday, San Francisco will need to limit Carolina running back Christian McCaffery, who has scored both a rushing and a receiving touchdown in each of his past two games. With both a rushing and receiving touchdown on Sunday, McCaffrey would tie Pete Johnson (three consecutive games in 1981 with Cincinnati) for the longest streak of games with at least one rushing and one receiving touchdown in NFL history.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Dating back to Week 8 of the 2018 season, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has 16 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his past seven starts on the road and his streak of eight consecutive road games with a passer rating of 110 or higher is the longest such streak in NFL history.

With at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions on Sunday at Atlanta, Wilson would surpass Tom Brady (seven games in 2010) and Nick Foles (seven in 2012-13) for the most consecutive road games with at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions in NFL history.

The players with the most consecutive road games with at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON(S), GAMES)
Tom Brady, New England (2010, 7)
Nick Foles, Philadelphia (2012-13, 7)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2018-19, 7)*
*Active streak

CAN’T STOP HOP: Since entering the league in 2013, Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins ranks second in the NFL in touchdown receptions (50), and third in catches (577) and receiving yards (7,945).

Hopkins, who will be 27 years and 143 days old on Sunday, needs 55 receiving yards against Oakland to become the third-youngest player to reach 8,000 career receiving yards in NFL history.

The youngest players to reach 8,000 career receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (AGE)
Randy Moss, Minnesota (26 years, 297 days) HOF
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (27 years, 110 days)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (27 years, 358 days)
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston (27 years, 143 days)*
*On Sunday
HOF – Hall of Fame

SACKED IN A FLASH: Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett is tied for the league lead with nine sacks this season and has had at least two sacks in three games in 2019.

With two sacks on Sunday against New England, Garrett would become the first player since Robert Mathis (2013) and the eighth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to have four games with at least two sacks through his team’s first seven games of a season.

The players with the most games with at least two sacks through their team’s first seven games of a season since 1982:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS)
Jared Allen, Minnesota (2011 – 4)
Elvis Dumervil, Denver (2009 – 4)
Mark Gastineau, New York Jets (1984 – 4)
Kevin Greene, Carolina (1998 – 4) HOF
Robert Mathis, Indianapolis (2013 – 4)
Michael Strahan, New York Giants (2001 – 4) HOF
DeMarcus Ware, Dallas (2011 – 4)
Myles Garrett, Cleveland (2019 – 3)*
*In six games
HOF – Hall of Fame

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL 100 Game of the Week. Each game is a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL has designated Sunday night’s Green Bay-Kansas City matchup as the NFL100 Game of the Week because the contest commemorates the teams that played in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, later called the Super Bowl thanks to a suggestion made by the late Lamar Hunt, owner of the Chiefs and co-founder of the AFL. On January 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Packers clung to a 14-10 halftime lead before breaking open the contest in the second half. Max McGee caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 35-10 win over the AFL champion Chiefs. Two networks, CBS and NBC, televised the game, which was not sold out.

YOUNG QUARTERBACKS ILLUMINATING NFL’S PATH: One of the more remarkable storylines of the NFL’s 100th season is the league’s sterling crop of young quarterbacks, and the amount of wins that group has generated. All told, 87 of 106 games (82.1 percent) have featured at least one starting quarterback age 26 or younger, more than any season ever through Week 7. Quarterbacks age 26 or younger have won 63 of their 116 starts (54.3 percent), 14 more wins than any prior season in league annals through seven weeks.

A look at some of the starting quarterbacks age 26 or younger this season:

Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen, 23, is 4-0 as a starter in 2019. He also is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to begin his career 5-0 without throwing an interception in his first five career starts.

New Orleans quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, 26, is 5-0 as a starter in 2019 with 1,370 pass yards and nine touchdowns for a 98.9 rating.

Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett, 26, has led the Colts to a 4-2 record and has thrown at least two touchdowns in five of his six starts.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, 23, is the third quarterback in NFL history with at least three games of 100 rushing yards in a single season. He is also one of three quarterbacks with five touchdown passes in a single game in 2019.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, 26, has paced the NFL’s top-ranked offense (437.9 yards per game) with 12 touchdown passes and three rushing touchdowns. He is one of four quarterbacks to average at least 300 passing yards per game in 2019.

Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson, 24, has 1,952 passing yards, 15 touchdown passes and three rushing touchdowns in 2019.

ROOKIES COMPETING AT HIGHEST LEVELS: Jacksonville, who hosts the New York Jets on Sunday is the first team in NFL history to have a rookie (Gardner Minshew) with a passer rating of 95 or higher (minimum 100 attempts) and a rookie (Josh Allen) with five-or-more sacks through their first seven games.

Minshew leads NFL rookies in both passer rating (95.7) and touchdown passes (10). It’s only the second time in NFL history in which a rookie quarterback has compiled a 95-or-better passer rating and 10-or-more touchdown passes through seven weeks (Houston’s DeShaun Watson had a 103 rating and 19 TDs through seven games in 2017).

In fact, rookies are prevalent all over the NFL landscape as the season approaches its midway point. The 100th season is the only campaign in NFL history in which a rookie through seven weeks of play:

Has a 95-or-better passer rating (Gardner Minshew Jacksonville, 95.7),
Has 10-or-more touchdown passes (Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville, 10),
Has at least 550 rushing yards (Josh Jacobs, Oakland, 554),
Has at least 400 receiving yards (Terry McLaurin, Washington, 419),
Has five-or-more overall touchdowns (Terry McLaurin, Washington, five),
Has at least two interceptions (Devin Bush, Pittsburgh and Ryan Connelly, New York Giants, each with two)
Has at least five sacks (Josh Allen, Jacksonville, five).

A POINT ABOUT ONE-POINT GAMES: This past week, eight games were within one score (eight points or fewer) at some point in the fourth quarter. Through seven weeks, 69 of 106 games (65.1 percent) have seen a team come within one possession of tying or taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Only three previous seasons have had more one-point games through Week 7 since the 1970 merger. And only three other seasons have seen more games decided by seven-or-fewer points in NFL history.

The seasons with the most games decided by one- and seven-or-fewer points through seven weeks:

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE-OR-FEWER POINTS, THROUGH WEEK 7, SINCE 1970
2016 – 10
1999 – 10
1997 – 10
2019 – 9
1972 – 9

GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN-OR-FEWER POINTS, THROUGH WEEK 7, ALL-TIME
2012 – 57
2016 – 56
1999 – 55
2019 – 54
2018 – 54
2011 – 54
2010 – 54

BELICHICK HAS 300 IN SIGHT: New England head coach Bill Belichick can become just the third coach in NFL history to win 300 games, including the postseason. On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Belichick (299) can join Pro Football Hall of Famers Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324) as one of three coaches in NFL history to reach the milestone.

The head coaches with 200-or-more wins in NFL history, including the postseason:

COACH (W-L-T, PCT)
Don Shula (347-173-6, .666) HOF
George Halas (324-131-31, .682) HOF
Bill Belichick (299-134-0, .691)
Tom Landry (270-178-6, .603) HOF
Earl (Curly) Lambeau (229-134-22, .631) HOF
Andy Reid (212-140-1, .601)
Chuck Noll (209-156-1) HOF
Marty Schottenheimer (205-139-1, .596)
Dan Reeves (201-174-2, .536)
HOF – Hall of Fame
From 1920-71, tie games were not included in winning percentage.

Belichick meets the Cleveland Browns, where he served as head coach from 1991-95. Ironically, his best season in Cleveland was 1994, when he guided the 11-5 Browns to a Wild Card win over Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Parcells and the Patriots. During his Cleveland tenure, Belichick’s Browns coaching staff and front office contained some of the NFL’s most talented minds.

A closer look at notable Cleveland Browns executives and assistant coaches during the Bill Belichick era:

INDIVIDUAL, WITH 1991-95 BROWNS (CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS)
Bill Belichick, Head coach (Won six Super Bowls with Patriots)
Thomas Dimitroff, Grounds crew assistant (Atlanta Falcons general manager, drafted MVP Matt Ryan, advanced to SB LI)
Kirk Ferentz, Offensive line coach (College Coach of Year and two Big Ten titles as head coach at Iowa)
Pat Hill, Tight ends coach (as Fresno State head coach, 17 wins over teams from power conferences)
George Kokinis, Scout (Cleveland Browns general manager)
Michael Lombardi, Director of player personnel; Senior executive, Raiders; Browns general manager
Eric Mangini, Public relations intern (New York Jets, Browns head coach; won three Super Bowls as New England assistant)
Ozzie Newsome, Director of pro personnel (Pro Football Hall of Fame, Baltimore Ravens general manager)
Scott Pioli, Pro personnel assistant (New England personnel executive; Chiefs general manager)
Nick Saban, Defensive coordinator (Won six national titles as college head coach – Louisiana State, Alabama)
Phil Savage, Scout (Cleveland Browns general manager)
Jim Schwartz, Scout (Detroit Lions head coach, won Super Bowl LII as Eagles defensive coordinator)
Mike Tannenbaum, Player personnel assistant (New York Jets, Dolphins general manager)

BOOKEND NFL POINT-DIFFERENTIALS: New England owns a plus-175 point-differential (223 points scored, 48 points allowed), the second-highest mark in NFL history through seven games. Only one other club through seven games, the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans – in the first season of league competition, 1920 – had a higher point-differential, plus-218. The only other clubs with a point-differential of at least 163 through seven games were the 1941 Chicago Bears (plus-173) and the 1921 Buffalo All-Americans (plus-163).

DOMINATING IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT FOR NEW ENGLAND DEFENSE: With road shutouts in Week 2 and Week 7, the Patriots have two road shutout wins of at least 30 points in 2019. New England is the second team in NFL history to blank an opponent on the road by at least 30 points on multiple occasions in a single season. Only the 1942 Chicago Bears (two) can claim that distinction over a full year.

The Patriots also lead the NFL with 18 interceptions this season. Through seven games, only three clubs in NFL history have had more.

The most interceptions through seven games in NFL history:

INTERCEPTIONS (TEAM, YEAR – SEASON RESULT)
20 (Green Bay, 1996 – Won Super Bowl XXXI)
19 (San Francisco, 1986 – Advanced to NFC Divisional)
19 (Pittsburgh, 1973 – Advanced to AFC Divisional)
18 (New England, 2019 – ???)
18 (Dallas, 1985 – Advanced to NFC Divisional)
18 (Los Angeles Rams, 1985 – Advanced to NFC Championship)
18 (Pittsburgh, 1983 – Advanced to AFC Divisional)
18 (Oakland, 1974 – Advanced to AFC Championship)
18 Pittsburgh, 1972 – Advanced to AFC Championship)

WELCOME BACK AT WEMBLEY, OTHER REUNIONS ON THE SCHEDULE: In addition to Belichick playing his former team, London’s Wembley Stadium hosts its first 2019 NFL game. In a reunion, Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor meets his former club, the Los Angeles Rams. Taylor served as the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 and quarterbacks coach in 2018, when the team advanced to Super Bowl LIII. In Week 9, Houston meets Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium and in Week 11 Kansas City meets the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City to close the NFL’s 2019 International Series.

Buffalo’s Sean McDermott hosts his former team, Philadelphia Sunday at Orchard Park. McDermott worked for the Eagles from 1999-2010. Meanwhile in Atlanta, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn hosts his former club Seattle. Quinn served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator from 2013-14.

Baltimore and Dallas have byes this week. Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay return to gridiron action in week eight. Week eight got underway in the Twin Cities as Minnesota and Washington squared off and conculudes in the Steel City as Pittsburgh hosts the winless Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field. As for last week? Much better, going 8-6 for the week and 48-47 for the season. There’s still football left on the docket. Having said that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 8.
Seattle (5-2) at ATLANTA (1-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. Salmon meets peach pie as Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks make their way to the Peach State for an early afternoon contest with the Atlanta Falcons. Both teams come into Saturday’s contest with home losses under their belts.

Wilson and the Seahawks could never get on track against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday afternoon in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks as the Seahawks dropped a 30-16 decision at CenturyLink Field. Seatlle and the Ravens went to the intermission tied at 13-13 after the Ravens’ Jeff Tucker gave them a 3-0 lead after one quarter, then were outscored by the Ravens 17-3 in the final 30 minutes of action in the Pacific Northwest. Jackson burned Seattle for 116 yards and had a rushing TD of his own as the Ravens outrushed Seattle 199-106 and Jackson threw for 143 yards, while Wilson threw for 241 yards with a TD to Tyler Lockett and an interception (both were sacked once). Seattle was 10 of 17 on third down conversions in the Pacific Northwest and actually ruled the clock, as they would keep the ball for 30:06 to Baltimore’s 29:54 (the Ravens were 5 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Atlanta, who will have Matt Schwab under center, while Matt Ryan is out with an ankle injury, watched Los Angeles snap a 3-3 tie in the first quarter as the Rams would score 24 unanswered points (10 in the second quarter, 14 in the third) to take a 37-10 loss in the Big Peach last Sunday, dropping their sixth contest in a row in their loss to the defending NFC champions. The Falcons trailed 13-3 at the half and could never get themselves on track in the contest, as they were held to 38 yards rushing (the Rams tallied 90) and Ryan (159 yards) was sacked five times with an interception, while Jarred Goff threw for 268 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Todd Gurley, the other to TE Gerald Everett). Atlanta was a somewhat dismal 3 of 12 on third down conversions in the Big Peach and kept the ball for 22:51, while the Rams ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 37:09, while going 8 of 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Seahawks lead the series 10-6 and have outscored Atlanta 438-391. Their last meeting took place in 2017 in the Pacific Northwest and the Falcons came away 34-31 winners in a Monday night contest (Seattle’s last win over the Falcons came in 2016 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Startbuck by a final of 26-24. Seattle’s favored by 3 1/2 in the Big Peach and the over/under is 53 1/2. Falcons end their losing streak as they go into their bye week and covers the 3 1/2.

Philadelphia (3-4) at Buffalo (6-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Cheesesteak meets wings in upstate New York as the Buffalo Bills circle their wagons and host the Philadelphia Eagles at New Era Field.

The Eagles make their way to the shores of Lake Erie with a 37-10 loss at Dallas under their belts Sunday night. Philadelphia trailed 27-7 at the half at AT&T Stadium and could never get themselves on track in the prime time contest in the Lone Star State. Philadelphia found themselves being outrushed by Dallas 189-115 and Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott led all rushers with 111 yards and a TD, while Dak Prescott threw for 239 yards and had a rushing TD of his own. Carson Wentz led Philadelphia with 191 yards in the air (both Wentz and Prescott threw a TD, was sacked three times and threw an interception). The Eagles, who turned the ball over four times, went 3 of 9 on third down tries (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:38, while the Cowboys, who took over first place in the NFC East, was stingy with the clock, keeping the ball hostage for 32:22 and went 8 of 14 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Buffalo held off AFC East rival Miami 31-21 Sunday afternoon in upstate New York. The Bills erased a 14-9 deficit at the break and after a scoreless third quarter, floored the gas, outscoring Miami 22-7 in the final period and put a nail in Miami’s coffin with 98 seconds left when S Micah Hyde returned a Miami onside kick 45 yards for a TD after the Dolphins pulled themselves to within three when Ryan Fitzpatrick scored from 11 yards away. Buffalo outrushed Miami 117-109 and Josh Allen threw for 202 yards and a pair of TDs without an interception (Allen was sacked twice), while Fitzpatrick threw for 282 yards with a TD pass in addition to his rushing TD with an interception. Buffalo went 3 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:29, while the Dolphins actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:31, going 7 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

While the Eagles hold a 7-6 lead in the series, both clubs have scored 245 points in the series. Philadelphia’s last win in the series came in the City of Brotherly Love, coming away 23-20 winners in 2015, while Buffalo’s last win came along the shores of Lake Erie in 2011 by a final of 31-24. Buffalo’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under is 43 1/2. The Eagles would love nothing more than to break their losing string in upstate New York. As for the Bills? They’re having nothing of it. Buffalo circles the wagons in upstate New York by winning in Orchard Park and covers the 1 1/2.

Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) at Chicago (3-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers make their way to the Windy City for an early afternoon (early morning on the West Coast) showdown with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Both teams look to right their ships after losses in last Sunday’s action.

The Bolts come into Soldier Field 23-20 losers at Tenneseee last Sunday. Los Angeles and Tennessee played to a 10-10 first half tie, then the Titans would pull away in the final 30 minutes of play at Nissan Stadium, trailing by as much as 10 with 5:09 left in the contest when Rivers and RB Austin Eiker connected on a 41 yard TD toss to pull themselves to within 3. That would be as close as they would get as Tennessee would take control of things and take the 3-point win in the Music City. Tennessee outrushed the Bolts 97-39 and Titans RB Derek Henry would lead all rushers with 90 of those yards and a TD. Ryan Tannehill, who took over for the benched Marcus Mariota, threw for 312 yards and an interception, while Rivers threw for 329 yards with a sack (Tannehill threw an interception, both he and Rivers threw a pair of TDs). Both teams were 6 of 11 on third down (the Titans were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Titans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:15 to the Chargers’ 27:45.

Da Bears let a 10-9 lead against Teddy Bridgewater and the New Orleans Saints get away from them late Sunday afternoon as the Saints would leave the Windy City 36-25 winners at Soldier Field. The special teams for both clubs took the spot light in the first half as New Orleans blocked a Pat O’Donnell punt in the first quarter for a safety, then the Bears’ Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 102 yards for a TD. After an Eddie Pinero field goal gave Da Bears the lead, New Orleans would take the lead back and for keeps late in the first half and Chicago would trail 12-10 and the half. New Orleans would go on to score 24 second half points without a challenge before Chicago scored twice in the fourth quarter to make the contest closer. Chicago would find themselves held to a season-low 17 yards rushing, while the Saints ran roughshod at Soldier Field, tallying 151 yards of rushing for their own. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 251 yards but was sacked twice, whil Bridgewater threw for 281 yards (both men threw a pair of TDs without an interception, Bridgewater was sacked once). The Saints were 7 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 37:26, while Chicago, keeping the ball for 22:34, went 2 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

While Da Bears lead the series 7-5 (including contests that were played in San Diego), the Chargers have outscored Chicago 232-204. Chicago has won the last two meetings, including a 22-19 win at Qualcomm in 2015, while the Chargers’ last win over Da Bears also came at Qualcomm, as the Bolts came away 14-3 winnners in 2007. Da Bears are favored by 4 in the Windy City and the over/under’s 41. Da Bears forget what happened to them last week at Soldier Field and takes the win in the Windy City, covering the 4.

New York Giants (2-5) at Detroit (2-3-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of struggling NFC teams meet in the Motor City as the New York Giants square off against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Both teams lost home games in last Sunday’s action.

Arizona and Murray held off a late New York Giants rally in the Meadowlands last Sunday afternoon, leaving upstate New Jersey 27-21 winners at Met Life Stadium. Big Blue trailed 17-14 at the half, then watched Arizona hold serve as they outscored Big Blue 10-7 in the final 30 minutes of play. Arizona outrushed the Giants 156-107 with Cardinals RB Chase Edmons leading all rushers with 126 yards and three TDs (Sequan Barkley led the Giants with 72 yards and a TD). Murray threw for 104 yards for the Cardinals, while Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones threw for 223 yards with a TD but threw an interception and was sacked eight times. Arizona was 7 of 15 on third down tries in upstate New Jersey (they went 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:59, while the Giants were 30:01 in time of possession, going 4 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Minnesota erased a 21-21 tie against NFC North rival Detroit at Ford Field and the Vikings came away 42-30 winners Sunday afternoon. Lions fans watched with horror as Minnesota outscored them 21-9 in the final 30 minutes of action. Stafford threw for 364 yards but was sacked four times with an interception for the Lions, while Kirk Cousins threw for 337 yards with no interceptions or sacks (both men threw four TDs) in the contest in the Motor City. Minnesota outrushed Detroit 166-81, with Vikings RB Dalvin Cook leading all rushers with 142 yards and a pair of TDs. Minnesota ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:10 and went 6 of 10 on third down tries, while the Lions were 6 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 27:50.

Including games that were played in Portsmouth when the Lions were known as the Spartans, games played at Tiger Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Giants Stadium, Detroit leads the series 22-21-1 and have outscored the Lions 757-652. Detroit won the last meeting with Big Blue in the Meadowlands, taking a 24-10 win in 2017, while the Giants’ last win came in 2016 (also in the Meadowlands) by a final of 17-6. Detroit’s favored by 7 and the over/under is 48. Take a pass on this one (unless you’re a fan of one or both of these teams).

Denver (2-5) at Indianapolis (4-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. Horsepower takes center stage at Lucas Oil Sunday afternoon as the Colts host the Denver Broncos. While the Colts are coming into the contest with a close win over AFC South rival Houston, the Broncos limp into the contest with an AFC West loss to Kansas City last Thursday night.

Denver scored the first six points of the contest against AFC West rival Kansas City last Thursday night at Empower Field at Mile High, then watch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs score all 30 of their points in the game unchallenged, coming on the short end of a 30-6 primetime loss. Denver trailed 20-6 at the half, then watched the Chiefs score 10 more times in the final 30 minutes of play. Royce Freeman opened the scoring in the contest for Denver, giving them their only score with 9:06 left in the first quarter when he scored from a yard away. Denver then went for two and failed, which opened the door for the Chiefs, who took over from that point. Kansas City outrushed Denver 80-71 with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 64 yards, while Patrick Mahomes threw for 117 yards and a TD toss to Tyreek Hill before leaving the contest with a dislocated knee cap. Denver’s Joe Flacco threw for 213 yards in the lopsided contest and was sacked eight times. Denver went 1 of 13 on third down (the Broncos were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:47, while the Chiefs, breaking their two-game losing streak, ruled the clock and kept the ball for 32:13, going 5 of 16 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Colts hung a 30-23 loss on Houston last Sunday in the Hoosier State. Indianapolis led 14-9 at the half at Lucas Oil Stadium, before the Texans would pull themselves to withing five with 6:38 left in the contest when DeAndre Hopkins scored on a 4-yard TD toss from Deshaun Watson. The Texans then saw their hopes dashed with 2:41 left to play when Zach Pascal got a safety when he picked up a sack in the end zone to seal the deal. Houston outrushed the Colts 100-62 and Watson threw for 308 yards and the TD to Hopkins but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Colts QB Jacoby Brissett threw for 326 yard and four TDs (two to Pascal and one to T.Y. Hilton) with one sack and no interceptions. Houston was 4 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:08, while the Colts ruled time and kept the ball for 32:52, going 8 of 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The Broncos lead the series 14-10 (including games that were played in Baltimore when the Colts were in that city), Denver has outscored Indianapolis 551-496 and the Broncos have come away winners in the last two contests, including taking a 25-13 win in 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium, while the Colts’ last win also came in the Hoosier State by a 27-24 final in 2015. The odds makers like the Colts as 5 1/2 point favorites in the Hoosier State and the over/under’s 43 1/2. In the battle for the corral, Indy prevails and wins at home, even though Denver could make it closer than 5 1/2.

New York Jets (1-5) at Jacksonville (3-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A struggling New York Jets team makes their way down I-95 to face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Sunshine State. The two clubs enter Sunday’s contest with opposite results from last week’s play.

Six turnovers (two fumbles, four interceptions) doomed New York last Monday night in the Meadowlands as Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champs manhandled the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 33-0 at Met Life Stadium. Brady and the Patriots scored all of their points in the contest unchallenged and GangGreen could never get themselves on track, trailing 24-0 at the break. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! came close to scoring twice but Sam Darnold (86 yards, sack) threw two of his four interceptions. GangGreen did outrush New England 81-74 and Brady threw for 249 yards and a TD (Brady threw an interception) in the lopsided loss. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were a dismal 2 of 13 on third down tries in upstate New Jersey (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:33, while the Patriots ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 38:27, went 7 of 16 on third down tries, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Jacksonville erased a 10-9 deficit against Cincinnati at the end of the third quarter to drop their seventh contest in a row, falling to the Jaguars 27-17 at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati led 7-6 at the intermission after Dalton (276 yards, three interceptions) and Joe Mixon connected on a 2-yard TD toss with 85 seconds left. Jacksonville then proceeded to rule the fourth quarter, outscoring the Bengals 18-7 and scoring those 18 points unchallenged. The Jaguars would take the lead for good in the final quarter when WE Keelan Cole and rookie QB Gardner Minshew connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Jacksonville then went for two and found sucess when Minshew (255 yards) and Chris Conley connected on the conversion. Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue would live a lineman’s dream as he picked off Dalton and returned the ball 23 yards for a score and after Jaguars K Josh Lambo connected on a 26-yard field goal to close out the scoring, Dalton would score on a 1-yard run with 23 seconds left in the contest. Jacksonville outrushed the Bengals 216-33 and Leonard Fournette returned to his old form, leading all rushers with 131 yards in the contest (Dalton led Cincinnati with 33 yards, both Minshew and Dalton were sacked twice). Cincinnati was 5 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 21:43, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 38:17, going 4 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Jacksonville holds a 7-6 lead in the series and have outscored GangGreen 263-220. They met last year in the Sunshine State and the Jaguars were 31-12 victors (New York’s last win in the series came in 2017 in the Meadowlands as the Jets needed overtime to take a 23-20 win).

They met in week four at TIAA Bank Field in the Sunshine State and Jacksonville led 16-0 at the intermission, then took an 18-0 lead with 12:22 left in the third quarter before the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! got on the board with the first of four Jeff Myers field goals, ending Jacksonville’s shutout bid. Jacksonville held New York to 34 yards of rushing, tallying 126 yards on the ground of their own, while Blake Bortles threw for 388 yards and a pair of TDs (Darnold threw for 167 yards and a TD; Bortles was sacked twice, Darnold was sacked three times).

Jacksonville was 6 of 15 on third down conversions but hit pay-dirt on fourth down (1 of 1) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 37:35 to the Jets’ 22:25 (New York was 3 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down). In the week four contest in the Sunshine State, the Jaguars were favored by 7 1/2 and covered, winning by 19. The two teams covered the 38 over/under, tallying 43 points in the AFC contest. Jacksonville’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 41. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! are looking to exorcise themselves from last week, while the Jaguars are looking to even their record at the .500 mark. Jaguars prevail in the Sunshine State and covers the 6.

Cincinnati (0-7) at Los Angeles Rams (4-2), 1 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. in London) on CBS and DirecTV 707. Tea and Crumpets! The struggling Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams make their way across the Big Pond in the third game of the London series at Wembley Stadium. Cincinnati looks to end their seven-game losing streak, while the defending NFC champs look to keep pace in the NFC West with San Francisco.

The Bengals watched Jacksonville erase a 10-9 lead at the end of the third quarter to drop their seventh contest in a row, falling to the Jaguars 27-17 at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati led 7-6 at the intermission after Dalton (276 yards, three interceptions) and Joe Mixon connected on a 2-yard TD toss with 85 seconds left. Jacksonville then proceeded to rule the fourth quarter, outscoring the Bengals 18-7 and scoring those 18 points unchallenged. The Jaguars would take the lead for good in the final quarter when WE Keelan Cole and rookie QB Gardner Minshew connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Jacksonville then went for two and found sucess when Minshew (255 yards) and Chris Conley connected on the conversion. Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue would live a lineman’s dream as he picked off Dalton and returned the ball 23 yards for a score and after Jaguars K Josh Lambo connected on a 26-yard field goal to close out the scoring, Dalton would score on a 1-yard run with 23 seconds left in the contest. Jacksonville outrushed the Bengals 216-33 and Leonard Fournette returned to his old form, leading all rushers with 131 yards in the contest (Dalton led Cincinnati with 33 yards, both Minshew and Dalton were sacked twice). Cincinnati was 5 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 21:43, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 38:17, going 4 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Atlanta watched Los Angeles snap a 3-3 tie in the first quarter as the Rams would score 24 unanswered points (10 in the second quarter, 14 in the third) to take a 37-10 win in the Big Peach last Sunday, dropping the Falcons to their sixth contest in a row in their loss to the defending NFC champions, who ended their three-game losing streak in the process. Leading 13-3 at the half, the Rams held Atlanta in check in the second half, holding the Falcons to 38 yards rushing, while the Rams tallied 90. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (159 yards) was sacked five times with an interception, while Jarred Goff threw for 268 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Todd Gurley, the other to TE Gerald Everett). Atlanta was a somewhat dismal 3 of 12 on third down conversions in the Big Peach and kept the ball for 22:51, while the Rams ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 37:09, while going 8 of 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Including those contests that were played in St. Louis when the Rams were there the Bengals lead the series 8-5, Cincinnati has outscored the Rams 245-235 and have won the last three meetings, including taking a 31-7 win in Cincinnati in 2015, while the Rams’ last win came in St. Louis by a final of 27-10 in 2003. The Rams are favpred by 13 on the other side of the Atlantic and the over/under’s 48. The 48 makes a lot of sense, it’s the 13 that has us wondering. The Bengals may be a bad football team now but they’re not 13 points bad. Cincinnati will make it closer than the 13 but the Rams prevail in London and take the win.

Arizona (3-2-1) at New Orleans (6-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Kyler Murray vs. Teddy Bridgewater. They meet in the Big Easy as New Orleans plays host to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon. Both teams were road winners in last Sunday’s action.

Arizona and Murray held off a late New York Giants rally in the Meadowlands last Sunday afternoon, leaving upstate New Jersey 27-21 winners at Met Life Stadium. The Desert Angry Birds took a 17-14 lead at the half, then held serve as they outscored Big Blue 10-7 in the final 30 minutes of play. Arizona outrushed the Giants 156-107 with Cardinals RB Chase Edmons leading all rushers with 126 yards and three TDs (Sequan Barkley led the Giants with 72 yards and a TD). Murray threw for 104 yards for the Cardinals, while Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones threw for 223 yards with a TD but threw an interception and was sacked eight times. Arizona was 7 of 15 on third down tries in upstate New Jersey (they went 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:59, while the Giants were 30:01 in time of possession, going 4 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

New Orleans and Bridgewater erased a 10-9 deficit against Chicago late Sunday afternoon as the Saints would leave the Windy City 36-25 winners at Soldier Field. The special teams for both clubs took the spot light in the first half as New Orleans blocked a Pat O’Donnell punt in the first quarter for a safety, then the Bears’ Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 102 yards for a TD. After an Eddie Pinero field goal gave Da Bears the lead, New Orleans would take the lead back and for keeps late in the first half and Chicago would trail 12-10 and the half. New Orleans would go on to score 24 second half points without a challenge before Chicago scored twice in the fourth quarter to make the contest closer. Chicago would find themselves held to a season-low 17 yards rushing, while the Saints ran roughshod at Soldier Field, tallying 151 yards of rushing for their own. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 251 yards but was sacked twice, whil Bridgewater threw for 281 yards (both men threw a pair of TDs without an interception, Bridgewater was sacked once). The Saints were 7 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 37:26, while Chicago, keeping the ball for 22:34, went 2 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Including contests played in St. Louis when the Cardinals played their home games at Busch Stadium and games played at Tulane Stadium, the Desert Angry Birds lead the series 15-14 and have outscored the Saints 671-643. New Orleans won the last meeting between the two teams, coming away 48-41 winners in the desert in 2016, while the Desert Angry Birds took a 31-19 win in the desert in 2015. The Saints are favored by 10 1/2 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 49. Both teams have played some decent football of late and there’s a chance the Saints could get Drew Brees back after their bye week (the Saints host Atlanta in the week 10 contest). New Orleans wins this one but expect the Desert Angry Birds to make things closer than 10 1/2.

Tampa Bay (2-4) at Tennessee (3-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. A pair of struggling teams meet in the Music City as Tampa Bay takes on Tennessee at Nissan Stadium. The Bucs return to play from their bye week, while Tennessee held off the Chargers at home.

Tampa Bay returns from their bye week after Carolina completed their sweep of NFC South rival Tampa Bay, coming away on the short end of a 37-26 loss at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Carolina scored the first 10 points of the game in the first quarter unchallenged and led Jameis Winston and the Bucaneers 17-7 at the break. The Panthers would hold off Tampa Bay in the second half, outscoring the Buccaneers 20-19 in the final 30 minutes of action. Neither club breached the 100 yard-barrier on the other side of the Atlantic but Carolina did outrush Tampa Bay 59-42 and Kyle Allen (taking over for Cam Newton) threw for 227 yards and a pair of TDs (Allen was sacked twice), while Winston threw for 400 yards with a TD pass and a 2-point conversion but was sacked seven times and picked off five times. Tampa Bay was 3 of 15 on third down (the Panther were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:10 to Tampa Bay’s 28:50; the Buccaneers were 5 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Tennessee held off a late Los Angeles rally last Sunday and came away 23-20 winners in the Music City. Los Angeles and Tennessee played to a 10-10 first half tie, then the Titans would pull away in the final 30 minutes of play at Nissan Stadium, trailing by as much as 10 with 5:09 left in the contest when Rivers and RB Austin Eiker connected on a 41 yard TD toss to pull themselves to within 3. That would be as close as they would get as Tennessee would take control of things and take the 3-point win in the Music City. Tennessee outrushed the Bolts 97-39 and Titans RB Derek Henry would lead all rushers with 90 of those yards and a TD. Ryan Tannehill, who took over for the benched Marcus Mariota, threw for 312 yards and an interception, while Rivers threw for 329 yards with a sack (Tannehill threw an interception, both he and Rivers threw a pair of TDs). Both teams were 6 of 11 on third down (the Titans were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Titans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:15 to the Chargers’ 27:45.

Including games played in Houston when the Texans were known as the Oilers, Tennessee leads the series 9-2, have outscored the Buccaneers 273-178 and won the last two contests in the series, including a 42-24 victory in the Sunshine State in 2015, while Tampa Bay’s last win against the Titans came in 2007 at Raymond James Stadium by a final of 13-10. The over/under for this one? 45 1/2 and the Titans are favored by 2 1/2. If you took a pass on this one, we wouldn’t blame you. Titans cover the 2 1/2 in the Music City and takes the win.

Carolina (4-2) at San Francisco (6-0), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. San Francisco, sitting atop the NFC West mountain, host the Carolina Panthers, in the chase in the NFC South as they chase New Orleans. Both teams had wins in their last contest, San Francisco winning on the road last Sunday, while the Panthers were winners on the other side of the Atlantic two weekends ago.

Carolina comes back from their bye after they completed their sweep of NFC South rival Tampa Bay, coming away 37-26 winners at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Carolina scored the first 10 points of the game in the first quarter unchallenged and led Jameis Winston and the Bucaneers 17-7 at the break. The Panthers would hold off Tampa Bay in the second half, outscoring the Buccaneers 20-19 in the final 30 minutes of action. Neither club breached the 100 yard-barrier on the other side of the Atlantic but Carolina did outrush Tampa Bay 59-42 and Kyle Allen (taking over for Cam Newton) threw for 227 yards and a pair of TDs (Allen was sacked twice), while Winston threw for 400 yards with a TD pass and a 2-point conversion but was sacked seven times and picked off five times. Tampa Bay was 3 of 15 on third down (the Panther were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:10 to Tampa Bay’s 28:50; the Buccaneers were 5 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.
The 49ers come back home unbeaten, using three Robbie Gould field goals at rainy FedEx Field to take a 9-0 win over the Washington Redskins last Sunday afternoon. After a scoreless first half, the 49ers kept themselves in the ranks of the unbeatens, using three Robbie Gould field goals in the second half to seal the win. San Francisco outrushed Washington 137-104, with Redskins RB Adrian Peterson leading the way with 81 yards. Case Keenum threw for 77 yards with no TDs or interceptions (he was sacked three times), while Jimmy Garoppolo (sacked twice) threw for 151 yards with an interception. The Redskins were 3 of 9 on third down conversions in Landover (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:36, while the 49ers held the ball hostage for 33:24, going 7 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The Panthers lead the series 13-7, have outscored the 49ers 517-426 and have come away winners in their last six meetings, including a 23-3 win on the West Coast in 2017, while San Francisco’s last win came in 2001 in Charlotte (when both teams were in the Western Division) by a final of 25-22 in overtime.

The 49ers are off to their best start since 1990, when they finished 14-2 and won the West and have won three straight games, holding their opponents to 7 points or less. San Francisco’s favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under’s 42. Both numbers make sense. Carolina’s hoping to keep pace in the NFC South, while the 49ers look to stay unbeaten. San Francisco prevails on the West Coast and covers the 5 1/2.

Oakland (3-3) at Houston (4-3), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC teams that lost on the road last week meet in the Lone Star State as the Texans host Oakland at NRG Stadium.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took care of business at Lambeau last Sunday afternoon, taking care of Derek Carr and the Raiders 42-24 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst. Oakland trailed 21-10 at the half and then watched as Green Bay held serve, outscoring the Raiders 21-14 in the final 30 minutes of action. While Oakland outrushed Green Bay 155-60 and Raiders rookie RB Josh Jacobs led all rushers with 124 yards, the Raiders were in Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood, as he burned Oakland for 429 yards, five TD passes and had a rushing TD of his own without an interception (he was sacked once). AS for Carr, he threw for 293 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Darren Waller (Carr threw an interception). Green Bay was 6 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:24, while the Raiders were 7 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the pigskin for 29:36.

Houston returns home with a 30-23 loss to Indianapolis in tow last Sunday in the Hoosier State. Houston trailed 14-9 at the half at Lucas Oil Stadium and trailed by five with 6:38 left in the contest when DeAndre Hopkins scored on a 4-yard TD toss from Deshaun Watson. The Texans then saw their hopes dashed with 2:41 left to play when Zach Pascal got a safety when he picked up a sack in the end zone to seal the deal. Houston outrushed the Colts 100-62 and Watson threw for 308 yards and the TD to Hopkins but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Colts QB Jacoby Brissett threw for 326 yard and four TDs (two to Pascal and one to T.Y. Hilton) with one sack and no interceptions. Houston was 4 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:08, while the Colts ruled time and kept the ball for 32:52, going 8 of 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Houston leads the series 6-4 and the Texans have outscored the Silver and Black 246-199. Their last meeting took place south of the border in Mexico City in 2016 and the Raiders would wind up winning that contest 27-20 on the Monday before Thanksgiving, while Houston’s last win in the series came on the West Coast in 2014 by a final of 30-14. Houston’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 51 1/2. Both teams look to keep pace in their respective divisions but in the end, the Texans come out on top. Houston may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take the win in the Lone Star State.

Cleveland (2-3) at New England (7-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. Baker Mayfield vs. Tom Brady. One has Super Bowl rings, the other wants one. The unbeaten Patriots return to Foxboro for a late-afternoon meeting with the Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland and Mayfield come back to play in week eight after their 32-28 loss to Seattle at FirstEnergy Stadium two Sundays ago. The Seahawks trailed 20-18 at the half along the shores of Lake Erie, then went to work in the second half, outscoring Cleveland 14-8 in the final 30 minutes of action, with RB Chris Carson scoring the game-winner with 3:30 left in the contest on a one-yard run. The Seahawks would go on to hold off a late Browns rally in the final minutes of the contest when K.J. Wright picked off Mayfield, giving them the ball and allowing them to run out the clock. Carson led all rushers with 124 yards and the game-winning TD, while Nick Chubb led Cleveland with 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns (WR Odell Beckham, Jr. led all recievers with 101 yards on six catches), while Wilson threw for 295 yards with a pair of TD passes and Mayfield throwing for 249 yards with a TD and three interceptions (Wilson was sacked three times and both Wilson and Mayfield had a rushing TD). Seattle went 6 of 13 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 33:41, while the Browns, who held on to the ball for 26:19, went 3 of 8 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Brady and the Patriots took advantange of six New York Jets turnovers (two fumbles, four interceptions), dooming their AFC East rivals as the defending Super Bowl champs manhandled the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 33-0 at Met Life Stadium. Brady and the Patriots scored all of their points in the contest unchallenged and GangGreen could never get themselves on track, as New England led 24-0 at the break. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! came close to scoring twice but Sam Darnold (86 yards, sack) threw two of his four interceptions. While GangGreen did outrush New England 81-74, Brady threw for 249 yards and a TD (Brady threw an interception) in the lopsided loss. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were a dismal 2 of 13 on third down tries in upstate New Jersey (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:33, while the Patriots ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 38:27, went 7 of 16 on third down tries, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Browns lead the series 12-11 and have outscored New England 428-412. New England’s last win came in Cleveland in 2016, with the Patriots coming away with the 33-13 win, while Cleveland’s last win came along the shores of Lake Erie in 2010 by a final of 34-14. New England’s favored by 13 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. The Browns have been somewhat entertaining of late and they’re not 13 points bad. Still, the defending Super Bowl champs prevail at home in Foxboro and could very well cover the 13.

Green Bay (6-1) at Kansas City (5-2), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. A pair of classic rivals meet at Arrowhead as Green Bay travels to the Show Me State for a Sunday night meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs. Both clubs took wins in last week’s action, as the Chiefs opened week seven play on the road, while the Packers were big winners at home at Lambeau.

Rodgers and the Packers took care of business at Lambeau last Sunday afternoon, taking care of Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders 42-24 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst. Green Bay led 21-10 at the half and then held serve, outscoring the Raiders 21-14 in the final 30 minutes of action. While Oakland outrushed Green Bay 155-60 and Raiders rookie RB Josh Jacobs led all rushers with 124 yards, the Raiders were in Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood, as he burned Oakland for 429 yards, five TD passes and had a rushing TD of his own without an interception (he was sacked once). AS for Carr, he threw for 293 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Darren Waller (Carr threw an interception). Green Bay was 6 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:24, while the Raiders were 7 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the pigskin for 29:36.

Denver scored the first six points of the contest against AFC West rival Kansas City last Thursday night at Empower Field at Mile High, then watch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs score all 30 of their points in the game unchallenged, coming on the short end of a 30-6 primetime loss. Denver trailed 20-6 at the half, then watched the Chiefs score 10 more times in the final 30 minutes of play. Royce Freeman opened the scoring in the contest for Denver, giving them their only score with 9:06 left in the first quarter when he scored from a yard away. Denver then went for two and failed, which opened the door for the Chiefs, who took over from that point. Kansas City outrushed Denver 80-71 with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 64 yards, while Patrick Mahomes threw for 117 yards and a TD toss to Tyreek Hill before leaving the contest with a dislocated knee cap. Denver’s Joe Flacco threw for 213 yards in the lopsided contest and was sacked eight times. Denver went 1 of 13 on third down (the Broncos were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:47, while the Chiefs, breaking their two-game losing streak, ruled the clock and kept the ball for 32:13, going 5 of 16 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.
The Chiefs lead the series 7-3-1 (including contests that took place at Milwaukee and at Swope Field in Kansas City) and have outscored the Packers 230-204. Green Bay won the last meeting, which took place in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst, as the Packers were 38-28 winners at Lambeau in 2015, while the Chiefs’ last win came at Arrowhead in 2011 by a final of 19-14.

Given that these two teams played in the very first Super Bowl and that they could very well meet in Miami, it’s only fitting that this one becomes “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

Green Bay’s favored by 4 at Arrowhead and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Both numbers make a ton of sense. Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions and both clubs could very well meet in Miami for the Lombardi Trophy. Everything may be up to date in Kansas City but the Packers take the win at Arrowhead and covers the 4.

Miami (0-6) at Pittsburgh (2-4), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A pair of struggling AFC teams close out play in week eight as the Dolphins travel to the Steel City for a prime time showdown with the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Buffalo snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as they held off AFC East rival Miami 31-21 Sunday afternoon in upstate New York. Miami led 14-9 at the break and after a scoreless third quarter, watched as Buffalo floored the gas, outscoring Miami 22-7 in the final period and put a nail in Miami’s coffin with 98 seconds left when S Micah Hyde returned a Miami onside kick 45 yards for a TD after the Dolphins pulled themselves to within three when Ryan Fitzpatrick scored from 11 yards away. Buffalo outrushed Miami 117-109 and Josh Allen threw for 202 yards and a pair of TDs without an interception (Allen was sacked twice), while Fitzpatrick threw for 282 yards with a TD pass in addition to his rushing TD with an interception. Buffalo went 3 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:29, while the Dolphins actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:31, going 7 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Steelers return from their bye week, getting revenge on the Los Angeles Chargers as they held off a late rally in the fourth quarter at Dignity Health Sports Park and took care of the Bolts 24-17 on the West Coast. The Steelers scored all 24 of their points unchalleged, leading 17-0 at the intermission before the Chargers would score their points in the fourth quarter, using a pair of TD passes from Rivers to TE Hunter Henry to pull themselves to within 7 with 79 seconds left in the contest. Pittsburgh outrushed Los Angeles 124-32 and Rivers threw for 320 yards with the two Henry TDs (Rivers was sacked once and picked off twice), while rookie QB Devlin Hodges (taking over for Mason Rudolph – concussion) threw for 132 yards and a TD to James Conner. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the Sunday night contest; Pittsburgh was 8 of 13, Los Angeles was 7 of 12 and the Steelers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:05 to the Chargers’ 25:55.

While Pittsburgh leads the series 12-11 (including games played at the old Orange Bowl and Three Rivers Stadium), the Dolphins have outscored Pittsburgh 477-436. Miami won the last two meetings in the series, taking a 30-15 win in the Sunshine State in 2016 in their last contest, while Pittsburgh’s last win came in Miami in 2010 by a final of 23-22. Both clubs have done reasonably well on Monday night; Miami is 19-9, while the Steelers are 28-21. Since both clubs are somewhat struggling, you might want to take a pass on this one and watch “Bull” this week. The Steelers are favored by 14 1/2 in the Steel City and the over/under is 43 1/2. If anything, if you’re a fan of either team, by all means watch; otherwise, you’d be better off watching something else. While Miami’s bad, they’re not 14 1/2 bad. Pittsburgh wins this one but expect Miami to make things closer than 14 1/2.

Three weeks down, 14 to go.

The leaves are turning color in most places in the United States and there is stil lots of football left in the 2019 NFL season. There’s still time for those teams looking for that first win to get it. Football is a fickle mistress that must be treated with great care. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

SEVEN FROM LAST SUNDAY

Three teams that missed the postseason in 2018 – Buffalo (3-0), Detroit (2-0-1) and San Francisco (3-0) – are undefeated through the first three weeks of the 2019 season.

2019 marks the fourth time that at least four teams have started the season undefeated through their first three games after missing the postseason the previous year since 1990 when the current playoff format was instituted, joining 2013, 2003 and 2002.

New England defeated the New York Jets, 30-14 in Week 3. New England is the first team to not allow a passing or rushing touchdown in each of their first three games of a season in the Super Bowl era. Additionally, the Patriots are the first team to hold opponents scoreless in the first half of five consecutive games, including the postseason, the longest such streak in the Super Bowl era.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, has 71 career games with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdowns, surpassing Peyton Manning (70) for the second-most such games in NFL history. Only Drew Brees (93) has more such performances in league annals. Appearing in his 20th career game, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 374 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 132.0 rating in the Chiefs’ 33-28 win over Baltimore. Through 20 career games, Mahomes has the highest marks by a quarterback in passing yards (6,576), passing touchdowns (60) and passer rating (115.3 – minimum 100 attempts) in NFL history.

Mahomes recorded his 13th career game with at least 300 pass yards, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (12 games) for the most by a player in his first 20 career games in NFL history. Mahomes – who passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in Week 1 and 443 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2 – is the first player to record at least 350 passing yards, three touchdown passes and zero interceptions in three consecutive games in NFL history.

New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones passed for 336 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 112.7 rating and added two rushing touchdowns in the Giants’ 32-31 win at Tampa Bay. Jones is the first rookie with at least 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a single game since 1970. Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett had four sacks in the loss. Barrett has eight sacks through the Buccaneers’ first three games, tied with Mark Gastineau (1984) for the most by a player in his team’s first three games of a season since 1982.

Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ 34-14 win over Oakland. Cook – who rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 and 154 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 – is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 110 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in each of his team’s first three games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958), Curtis Martin (2004), O.J. Simpson (1975) and Emmitt Smith (1995).

New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara had 161 scrimmage yards (92 receiving, 69 rushing) and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Saints’ 33-27 win at Seattle. Kamara, who has 23 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving touchdowns in 34 career games, is the fifth player in league annals with at least 20 rushing touchdown and 10 receiving touchdowns in his first three seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, Roger Craig, Chuck Foreman and Abner Haynes.

Carolina running back Christian McCaffery totaled 188 scrimmage yards (153 rushing, 35 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in the Panthers’ 38-20 victory at Arizona. McCaffrey, who had 209 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns in Week 1, is the fourth player with at least 185 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in two of his team’s first three games of a season in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1963), Adrian Peterson (2010) and Billy Sims (1980).

The NFL rolls into Week 4 with two significant early trends that separate this year from any of the previous 99 seasons: Quarterbacks are getting younger and the league-wide passer rating, the highest it’s ever been through three weeks, is on an upward slope. This week, the NFL concludes a September that has seen both the highest collective passer rating ever through three weeks and the most starting quarterbacks (20 in Week 3) age 26 or younger in league history. Meanwhile, each week continues to produce close games and stirring second-half comebacks and rookies continue to progress into household-name territory.

CLOSE GAMES INCREASINGLY COMMON: Through the first three weeks, 23 of 48 games (47.9 percent) have been decided by six points or less. Only one other time in league history (24 in 2013) has the final margin been six points or fewer in more games over three weeks of NFL play. Plus, 26 of 48 games (54.2 percent) have been decided by seven points or less, tied for third in league history after three weeks.

The most games decided by six-or-fewer points and seven-or-fewer points, through three weeks in NFL history:

Games decided by six points or fewer

2013 – 24
2019 – 23
2016 – 22
2000 – 21
Many – 20

Games decided by seven points or fewer

2016 – 28
2013 – 28
2019 – 26
1988 – 26
2011 – 25

REBOUNDS ALSO ON THE RISE: Four teams that missed the postseason in 2018 – Buffalo (3-0), Detroit (2-0-1), Green Bay (3-0) and San Francisco (3-0) – are undefeated through the first three weeks. Since the current playoff format began in 1990, this year marks just the fourth time that at least four teams have started the season undefeated through their first three games after missing the postseason the previous year. It also happened in 2002, 2003 and 2013.

If Buffalo, Detroit and Green Bay win this week, the league will have four undefeated teams through the first four weeks, among those that didn’t qualify for the postseason the prior year (including 3-0 San Francisco, on its bye in Week 4). It’s happened once previously, when Carolina, Denver, Kansas City and Minnesota opened 4-0 in 2003, after missing the playoffs in 2002. The Panthers advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII that season.

HIGHEST PASSER RATING EVER THROUGH THREE WEEKS: It’s an arms race! NFL passers have compiled a 94.3 rating through three weeks, while the average age among starting quarterbacks has decreased each week.

The highest aggregate passer ratings through a season’s first three weeks in NFL history:

YEAR – PASSER RATING
2019 – 94.3
2018 – 93.2
2015 – 91.1
2014 – 90.6
2017 – 90.3

ROOKIES PREVALENT ON NFL LANDSCAPE: Youth is being served! Through three weeks, 11 of 32 NFL teams have rookies leading or tied for their team lead in passer rating, rushing yards, receiving yards, tackles or interceptions. That includes Pittsburgh, whose rookie linebacker Devin Bush not only leads the Steelers with 29 tackles; he also leads the league with three fumble recoveries.

Last week in his first NFL start, New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones passed for 336 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 112.7 passer rating. He also added two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winning 7-yard score with 76 seconds remaining, in his team’s 32-31 win at Tampa Bay. Since at least the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, Jones is the first rookie with at least 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in the same game.

A look at rookies who lead their teams or are tied for their team lead through three weeks:

PASSER RATING*

QB, TEAM (RATING)
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville (110.6)
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (109.7)
Kyler Murray, Arizona (79.0)

RUSHING YARDS

RUSHER, TEAM (YARDS)
Josh Jacobs, Oakland (228)
David Montgomery, Chicago (147)
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia (106)
*min. 40 attempts

RECEIVING YARDS

PLAYER, TEAM (YARDS)
Marquise Brown, Baltimore (282)
Terry McLaurin, Washington (257)
Preston Williams, Miami (115)

INTERCEPTIONS

PLAYER, TEAM (INTERCEPTIONS)
Ryan Connelly, New York Giants (1)
Darnell Savage, Green Bay (1)
Preston Williams, Miami (115)

ROOKIES GETTING TO QUARTERBACK: For the first time since 1982, when individual sacks became an official statistic, five rookies have at least 1.5 sacks entering Week 4. Carolina has two of those five: Brian Burns and Christian Miller each have 2 sacks. Jacksonville defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen (2), New England defensive lineman Chase Winovich (2) and New York Giants defensive end/linebacker Oshane Ximines (1.5) round out the group.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK: Two games on Sunday feature a battle of undefeated foes, both in the early afternoon window. New Era Field in Buffalo hosts a clash of the 3-0 teams atop the AFC East in upstate New York. New England, whose point-differential (89) is 36 points higher than number 2 Dallas (53), plays Buffalo, off to their best start since they began 3-0 in 2011. Buffalo seeks its first 4-0 start since 2008.

No NFL division has seen multiple teams start 3-0 since 2015, in the NFC South (Atlanta and Carolina). This season, both the AFC East and the NFC West (Rams and 49ers) have a pair of 3-0 teams.

At Ford Field in Detroit, Kansas City (3-0) meets Detroit (2-0-1), who with a win would be undefeated through four games for the first time since opening 5-0 in 2011.

CONSISTENT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Both New England and the Los Angeles Rams have authored a 3-0 encore after meeting in Super Bowl LIII. The defending Super Bowl teams haven’t started that well in 21 years, when both Denver and Green Bay were 3-0 to start the 1998 season after clashing in Super Bowl XXXII. The last time both Super Bowl teams were 4-0? It was also the Broncos and Packers in 1998.

STRONG STARTS: On Sunday Night Football, Dallas makes a trip to their neighboring state to meet New Orleans in the Big Easy. The Cowboys with a win would be off to their best start in 12 years, since opening 5-0 in 2007. With a win last Sunday over the Steelers, San Francisco is off to its best start in 21 years. The 49ers are on a bye this week but can advance to their first 4-0 start in nearly three decades with a win at home over Cleveland in Santa Clara on Monday, October 7. Seven teams are 3-0 entering Week 4.

The Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs have each started 3-0 for a second consecutive season. The last time the same two NFL teams opened 3-0 in back-to-back years was 2015-16 (Denver and New England). The last time the same two teams opened 4-0 in consecutive seasons was 1968-69, when the Rams and Dallas did the feat.

The last time each of the other 3-0 teams improved to 4-0:

TEAM, LAST 4-0 START (SEASON RESULT)
San Francisco, 1990 (NFC Championship)
Dallas, 2007 (NFC Divisional)
Buffalo, 2008 (Missed playoffs)
Green Bay, 2015 (NFC Divisional)
New England, 2015 (AFC Championship)

CONTAGIOUS COMEBACKS: In 12 of 48 games (25 percent), a team has come back to tie or win after trailing in the fourth quarter.

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL 100 Game of the Week. Each game is a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL has designated the Chargers-Dolphins contest as the NFL100 GAME OF THE WEEK because it honors one of the most thrilling games ever played, the Epic in Miami. On January 2, 1982, at the Orange Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN FOUTS led his Chargers to an incredible 41-38 overtime win over the Dolphins. In a thrilling AFC Divisional playoff that Sports Illustrated called, “The Game No One Should Have Lost,” the Dolphins overcame a 24-0 first-quarter deficit. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula inserted backup quarterback Don Strock to spark the Dolphins, who capitalized on four Miami takeaways to capture their first lead in the fourth quarter. But the Chargers cashed in their own takeaways, including a Pete Shaw fumble recovery that halted a potential game-icing Dolphins drive with less than 5 minutes left. On the Dolphins’ doorstep with under a minute on the clock and submerged by Miami’s pass rush, Fouts threw a blind, 9-yard pass in the direction of his intended receiver, Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow. The overthrown pass, however, sailed into the arms of Charger James BrooksAMES BROOKS for a game-knotting touchdown. In a 38-38 game, Strock then quickly maneuvered the Dolphins into field-goal position, where the 6-foot-5 Winslow deflected Uwe Von Schamann’s kick to force overtime. In the extra frame, each team orchestrated long drives, only to see their kickers miss field goals, including another Chargers block, this time by Leroy Jones. Finally, Fouts engineered a 74-yard drive to set up Rolf Bernirschke’s game-ending 29-yard field goal and – 13 minutes, 52 seconds, into OT – San Diego advanced, 41-38. Fouts and Strock combined for 856 yards passing. Five players topped 100 yards receiving. Following the season, Miami advanced to two of the next three Super Bowls.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 4

100 IN 100: Through the first three weeks of the NFL’s 100th season, 11 quarterbacks have a passer rating of 100 or higher (minimum 20 attempts), the most through three weeks in NFL history. That list of quarterbacks includes two rookies, Daniel Jones (New York Giants) and Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville), along with two second-year quarterbacks, Kyle Allen (Carolina) and Lamar Jackson (Baltimore). In total, six quarterbacks under the age of 25 and eight under the age of 30 have a passer rating of 100 or higher (minimum 20 attempts) through the first three weeks.

The quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher this season (minimum 20 attempts):

PLAYER, TEAM (AGE, PASSER RATING)
Kyle Allen, Carolina (23, 144.4)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (24, 134.9)
Dak Prescott, Dallas (26, 128.0)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (30, 119.6)
Tom Brady, New England (42, 116.5)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (22, 113.9)
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis (26, 112.0)
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville (23, 110.6)
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (22, 109.7)
Deshaun Watson, Houston (24, 108.6)
Case Keenum, Washington (31, 100.0)

Six other quarterbacks, including Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota (99.3) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers (98.5), have a passer rating of 95 or higher this season and look to join this group after Week 3. Through a season’s first four weeks, only 2015 and 2007 have featured at least 11 quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher (minimum 20 attempts).

The seasons with the most quarterbacks with a passer rating of at least 100 through four weeks (min. 20 attempts):

SEASON – QUARTERBACKS WITH 100+ RATING THROUGH 4 WEEKS

2015 – 11
2007 – 11
2018 – 10
2017 – 9
2019 – 11*

*Through Week 3

MAHOMES STREAKING: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 374 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Chiefs’ 33-28 win over Baltimore last week. Mahomes – who passed for 378 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 1 and 443 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2 – is the first player to record at least 350 passing yards, three touchdown passes and no interceptions in three consecutive games in NFL history.

Dating back to Week 6 of the 2018 season, the reigning league MVP has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 14 consecutive games. With at least two touchdown passes on Sunday at Detroit, Mahomes can tie Peyton Mannig (15 consecutive games) for the most consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history.

The most consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON(S)(CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 2+ PASS TDs)
Peyton Manning – Denver (2013-14)(15)
Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City (2018-19)(14)*
Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers (2017-18)(13)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (2011)(13)
Tom Brady – New England (2010-11)(13)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (2004)(13)
*Active streak

Mahomes can also become the fifth player in NFL history to throw at least three touchdowns in each of his first four games of a season.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes to begin their season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 3+ PASS TDs TO BEGIN THEIR SEASON)

Tom Brady, New England (2017, 10)#
Steve Young, San Francisco (1998, 5) HOF
Dan Marinom Miami (1987, 4)HO
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999, 4) HOF#
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2019, 3)*
*Active streak
#Named Associated Press Most Valuable Player

CAROLINA KYLE: In his first start of the season last week, Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen passed for 261 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 144.4 passer rating in the Panthers’ Week 3 win. Allen also threw for 228 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 111.3 rating in Carolina’s Week 17 victory in 2018, his first career start.

With at least two touchdown passes and no interceptions on Sunday at Houston, Allen would become the first player in the Super Bowl era to throw at least two touchdown passes without an interception in each of his first three career starts.

COOKING UP YARDS: Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ Week 3 win over Oakland and has recorded at least 100 rushing yards and a touchdown in each of his first three games of the season. His 375 rushing yards lead the league through three weeks.

With at least 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on Sunday at Chicago (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Cook would become the fifth player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in each of his team’s first four games to begin a season.​

The players with at least 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in each of their team’s first four games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, MOST GAMES WITH 100+ RUSH YARDS & RUSH TD TO BEGIN SEASON)
Jim Brown, Cleveland (1958, 6) HOF
O.J. Simpson , Buffalo (1975, 5) HOF
DeMarco Murray, Dallas (2014, 4)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995, 4) HOF
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota (2019, 3)*

15,000 FOR FRANK: Buffalo running back Frank Gore has rushed for 14,912 yards over his 15-year NFL career. With 88 rushing yards on Sunday against New England, Gore would become the fourth player in league history to reach 15,000 career rushing yards. The other three players are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The players with the most career rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) RUSHING YARDS)
Emmitt Smith – Dallas and Arizona (18,355) HOF
Walter Payton – Chicago (16,726) HOF
Barry Sanders – Detroit (15,26) HOF
Frank Gore – San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami and Buffalo (14,912)*
*Active

WALLER BALLER: Oakland tight end Darren Waller had a career-high 13 catches for 134 yards last week. His 26 receptions rank second in the league and lead all tight ends through the first three weeks of the season.

With eight receptions on Sunday at Indianapolis, Waller would surpass Antonio Gates (33 receptions) for the most receptions by a tight end through his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most receptions through their team’s first four games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, RECEPTIONS)
Antonio Gates, San Diego (2007, 33)
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans (2014, 32)
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia (2018, 31)
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland (2013, 30)
Darren Waller, Oakland (2019, 26)*
*Through Week 3

SHAQ ATTACK: Tampa Bay linebacker Shaquil Barrett enters Week 4 with a league-leading eight sacks. Barrett registered three sacks in Week 2, followed by a career-high four-sack performance last week, tying a Tampa Bay single-game franchise record.

With at least 1.5 sacks on Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams, Barrett would surpass Mark Gastineau (nine sacks, 1984), Kabeer Gbaja-BiamilaLA (nine, 2001) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Greene (nine, 1998) for the most sacks by a player through his team’s first four games of a season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The players with the most sacks through their team’s first four games of a season since 1982:

PLAYER, SEASON (TEAM, SACKS)
Mark Gastineau, 1984 (New York Jets, 9)
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, 2001 (Green Bay, 9)
Kevin Greene, 1998 (Carolina, 9) HOF
William Gay, 1983 (Detroit, 8.5)
Shaquil Barrett, 2019 (Tampa Bay, 8)*

*Through Week 3

Additionally, with at least three sacks in Week 4, Barrett can become the first player wi​​th at least three sacks in three consecutive games since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

Week four got underway at Lambeau as the Packers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as Green Bay hosted Philadelphia and concludes in the Steel City as Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati Monday night. Byes for this week? San Francisco and the New York Jets. As for last week? A lot better. 10-6… best.week.ever and for the season, we’re 25-23. There’s still football left to play. With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 4.

Tennessee (1-2) at ATLANTA (1-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of 1-2 teams meet in the Big Peach as Tennessee makes the 243-mile trip south to face off against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Both teams are searching for wins to even their records.

Held to a third-quarter TD by Derrick Henry, Tenneseee lost to AFC South rival Jacksonville 20-7. Tennessee trailed 14-0 (Jacksonville scored both early TDs in the first quarter) at TIAA Field last Thursday night and could never get themselves on track in the Sunshine State. Tennessee did out-rush Jacksonville 91-88 in the Thursday night contest and Marcus Mariota threw for 304 yards but was sacked nine times, while Jaguar QB Gardner Minshew threw for 204 yards with no sacks (neither threw an interception). Tennessee went 8 for 17 on third down and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 35:16, while Jacksonville kept the pigskin for 24:44, going 2 of 11 on third down (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

The Falcons were flagged 16 times for 128 yards in their 27-24 loss at Indianapolis last Sunday. Although they trailed 20-6 at the half, Atlanta would go on to outscore the Colts 21-7 in the final 30 minutes of play in the Hoosier State, pulling themselves to within 7 with 4:11 when Ryan and All-Pro WR Julio Jones connected on a 10-yard TD toss. The Colts would then get the ball back on the kickoff and run out the clock to take the win at Lucas Oil Stadium. Atlanta out-rushed the Colts 93-88 and Davonta Freeman led all rushers with 88 yards. Ryan threw for 304 yards and three TDs (two to TE Austih Hooper) with an interception but no sacks, while the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett threw for 310 yards and a pair of TDs with a sack (Marlon Mack led the Colts with 74 rushing yards and a TD). Atlanta was 8 of 10 on third down and the Falcons would keep the ball for 28:37, while the Colts ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 31:23, going 5 of 8 on third down.

Including games that were played in Houston when the Titans were known as the Oilers and the Falcons played their home games at Fulton County Stadium and the Georgoa Dome, the series is even at 7-7. Atlanta has outscored the Titans 331-313 and have won the last two meetings in the series, including a 10-7 win in 2015 in the Music City, while Tennessee’s last win over the Falcons came in 2007 in Nashville by a final of 20-13. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Falcons as 4 1/2 point favorites in the Big Peach and the over/under’s 46 1/2. Both numbers make sense. Both teams are looking to right their ships from last week. Falcons RISE UP in the Big Peach to take the win and covers the 4 1/2.

Cleveland (1-2) at Baltimore (2-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Mayfield vs. Jackson. A pair of top NFL QB draft picks meet in Charm City as the Ravens, atop first place in the AFC North, take on the Cleveland Browns in Baltimore. Both teams enter the Sunday afternoon contest with close losses from last week under their belts.

A late Cleveland rally against Los Angeles fell short as the Rams came away 20-13 winners at First Energy Stadium last Sunday night. Cleveland led 6-3 at the intermission before Jared Goff connected on a pair of TD passes to Cooper Kupp, the second one giving Los Angeles the lead back for keeps with 12:48 left in the contest. Greg Zuerlein would then add a 37-yard field goal to push the lead to a 3-point margin and the Rams stopped Baker Mayfield inside their 10-yard line as four of Mayfield’s passes fell incomplete in the final seconds of the contest.

Cleveland out-rushed Los Angeles 95-90 with Browns RB Nick Chubb leading all rusher with 96 yards, while former Georgia teammate Todd Gurley leading Los Angeles with 48. Goff threw for 268 yards with the two Kupp TDs (he was sacked twice and picked off twice), while Mayfield threw for 195 yards with a TD, three sacks and an interception. The Rams in the Sunday night contest along the shores of Lake Erie went 6 of 14 on third down and held the ball for 28:23. As for the Browns? They were 6 of 16 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down but ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:37.

Batlimore trailed Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City lead 23-6 at the intermission at Arrowhead Stadium, then watched Lamar Jackson and Baltimore out-score them 22-10 in the seconds but fell short, as the Chiefs would be the ones escaping with a 33-28 win. Jackson would make it an 8-point contest with 2:01 left in the game but the Ravens would miss the two-point try. The Chiefs would then get the ball back after the kickoff and they would run out the clock and take the win. Mark Ingram rushed for 103 yards and three TDs as the Ravens ran for 203 yards (Kansas City rushed for 140) and Jackson threw for 267 yards with three sacks (neither Jackson or Mahomes threw an interception). Batlimore went 5 of 13 on third downs at Arrowhead (they were 3 for 4 on fourth down) and the Ravens actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:44, while the Chiefs held the pigskin for 27:16, going 5 of 9 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Baltimore leads the series, 30-10 and the Ravens have out-scored Cleveland 927-598. The two clubs split their two meetings, with each taking wins at home.

The first meeting? Cleveland in week 5 and the contest was an all-field goal affair as the Browns needed overtime to take a 12-9 win along the shores of Lake Erie. Cleveland scored the only TD in the contest when Mayfield and WR Rashard Higgins connected on a 19-yard toss with 40 seconds left before the intermission to take a 6-3 lead (they would miss the extra point). Baltimore took a 3-0 lead into the first quarter of play thanks to a Jeff Tucker field goal before the Browns would lead 6-3 at the half.

Greg Joseph would then give Cleveland a 9-3 lead that would not last long as Tucker would kick a pair of field goals, including one that would tie the contest at 9-9 with 52 seconds left in regulation. Each team got a chance to score in the overtime and it would be the Browns that would prevail, as they used a 7-play, 65-yard drive that used 2:55 of clock and it would be Joseph that would send Browns fans home happy as he connected on a 37-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the extra period.

Baltimore out-rushed Cleveland 116-112 and Mayfield threw for 342 yards with five sacks to go with the TD toss, while Joe Flacco threw for 298 yards with a pair of sacks (each threw an interception). Cleveland was 6 of 19 on third down (the Browns were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:16, while the Ravens were 4 of 16 on third down (Baltimore was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:42.

Baltimore would get revenge in Charm City in week 17 and took the AFC North title in the process, surviving a late Browns scare and taking a 26-24 win at M&T Bank Stadium. In the season finale, the Ravens led 20-7 at the half before Cleveland stormed back in the final 30 minutes of play, pulling themselves to within 2 with 3:24 left in the contest when WR Antonio Calloway and Mayfield connected on a 1-yard TD toss. The Browns would get the ball back with 1:49 left but four Mayfield passes went incomplete. That in turn gave Baltimore the ball back and the Ravens would run out the clock and take the win in Charm City.

Baltimore out-rushed Cleveland 296-50, with Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon paving the way with 117 yards. Jackson threw for 179 yards with a pair of sacks and no interceptions, while Mayfield threw for 376 yards with three TDs and three interceptions. While the Ravens were 3 of 13 on third down, they were succesful in their only fourth down try, keeping the ball for 38:30; the Browns kept the ball for 21:30 and went 4 of 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Baltimore was favored by 3 in the week 5 contest in the Buckeye State and Cleveland covered with the 3-point overtime win but the 47 over/under stayed in tact as both clubs combined for only 21 points. Baltimore was favored in the season finale in Charm City by 6. While the Ravens did win, they only won by 2 but both teams scored 50 points, which covered the 41 over/under. Baltimore’s favored by 6 1/2 in this first meeting and the over/under’s 45. Both numbers make a ton of sense and both are capable of making the post-season party. The Browns are looking to get back to the post-season, while the Ravens are the defending AFC North champs. Break out the crabcakes! Cleveland could make this closer than 6 1/2 but Ravens prevail in Charm City.

New England (3-0) at Buffalo (3-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. They bpth share the same divison and they’re both unbeaten. A pair of AFC East rivals meet in upstate New York as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots travel to Orchard Park for an early afternoon meeting with the Buffalo Bills.

The defending Super Bowl champions held the New York Jets to a pair of second-half TDs at Foxboro as the Pats would take GangGreen to the woodshed 30-14 at Gillette Stadium. Brady and the Patriots led 20-0 at the intermission and never looked back in their AFC East opener. New England grounded the Jets’ rushing game, holding them to to a season-low 36 yards, while the Pats would rush for 68 and Brady threw for 306 yards wtih a pair of TDs and no sacks or interceptions, while Luke Falk, the third QB of the season for the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! threw for 98 yards with five sacks and an interception. New England went 6 of 15 on third down conversions in Foxboro and kept the ball for 35:14, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 0 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Buffalo held off Cincinnati 21-17 at New Era Stadium last Sunday. The Bills led the Bengals 14-0 at the intermission in upstate New York, then watched the Bengals outscore Buffalo 17-7 in the final 30 minutes of play to make the contest closer than Bills fans would like. Buffalo ran for 175 yards, holding the Bengals to 67 yards (Bills RB Frank Gore led all rushers with 76 yards and a TD), while Josh Allen threw for 243 yards for the Bills with an interception (Andy Dalton threw for 249 yards and two interceptions and a pair of sacks; both Dalton and Allen threw a TD in the contest). The Bengals, who turned the ball over three times in upstate New York, went 3 for 11 on third down conversions and held on to the ball for 23:06, while Buffalo ruled the clock and circled their wagons around the ball, keeping it for 36:54 and went 5 of 13 on third down tries.

New England leads the series 73-43-1 (which includes contests that were played at Fenway Park, Schafer Stadium in Boston and war Memorial Stadium in Buffalo), have out-scored the Bills 2,608-2,137 and have won the last five meetings, sweeping last year’s contests (Buffalo’s last win over the Patriots came in 2016 in Foxboro, where they shutout the Patriots 16-0).

Meeting number one… week eight in upstate New York (46 degree temperature at kickoff with a 39 degree wind chill) and the Patriots held Buffalo to a pair of Stephen Hauschka field goals to take a 25-6 win in Orchard Park. New England led 9-3 at the half, then proceeed to floor the gas in the second half, outscoring Buffalo 16-3 in the final 30 minutes of play.

New England rushed for only 76 yards but managed to hold the Bills to 46 yards, Brady threw for 324 yards, while Bills QB Derek Anderson threw for 290 yards (Brady was sacked twice but did not throw an interception, while Anderson threw three interceptions with being sacked three times). New England was 5 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 31:50, while the Bills kept the ball for 28:10, going 4 of 14 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

New England made the series a clean sweep in their week 16 contest in Foxboro, as they would take a 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. Although they led 14-0 at the break, New England was outscored by Buffalo 12-10 in the second half, with the Bills pulling to within 12 with 68 seconds left in the contest as Allen and WR Zay Jones connected on a 31-yard toss. New England took care of things on the ground, tallying 273 rushing yards, holding Buffalo to 72, with Patriots RB Sony Michel leading the way with 116 yards and a TD. Brady threw for 126 yards with a TD to Josh Edelman, while Allen threw for 217 yards (both threw a pair of interceptions and Brady was sacked once). New England was 3 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 35:38; the Bills kept the ball for 24:22, going 2 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week eight contest in upstate New York, New England easily covered the 14-point spread, winning by 19. The 44 1/2 over/under? It was safe, as both teams combined for 31 points. In the week 16 contest in Foxboro, New England covered the 12 1/2-point spread, winning by 14. The 44 1/2 over/under? Untouched, as both teams merged for 36 points. New England’s favored by 7 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. Given the records, this one’s “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

These two for the time being are the kings of the AFC East mountain but there can be only one king. The Bills will make this one closer than the 7 but Brady and the Patriots prevail in upstate New York, taking the win.

Kansas City (3-0) at Detroit (2-0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. An unbeaten Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs make their way to the Motor City to face off against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Both enter the contest with close wins under their belts.

Mahomes (three TDs) and the Chiefs led 23-6 at the intermission at Arrowhead Stadium, then watched Lamar Jackson and Baltimore out-score them 22-10 in the seconds, escaping with a 33-28 win. Jackson would make it an 8-point contest with 2:01 left in the game but the Ravens would miss the two-point try. The Chiefs would then get the ball back after the kickoff and they would run out the clock and take the win. Mark Ingram rushed for 103 yards and three TDs as the Ravens ran for 203 yards (Kansas City rushed for 140) and Jackson threw for 267 yards with three sacks (neither Jackson or Mahomes threw an interception). Batlimore went 5 of 13 on third downs at Arrowhead (they were 3 for 4 on fourth down) and the Ravens actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:44, while the Chiefs held the pigskin for 27:16, going 5 of 9 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Detroit gave Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles their second loss in a row after they left the City of Brotherly Love 27-24 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Detroit led 20-10 at the break but Philadelphia managed to keep the contest close, pulling themselves to within seven with 6:59 left when Wentz and WR Nelson Agholor connected on a 2-yard TD pass. Philadelphia would later get the ball back with 1:39 left to play in hopes of tying the contest up but the drive ended when the Eagles were flagged for offensive pass interference and Wentz’s fourth down pass attempt to WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was broken up, ending the Eagles’ hopes of a win at home.

Detroit was out-rushed by Philadelphia 127-86, with Wentz throwing for 259 yards, three sacks and a pair of TDs (both to Agholor), while Stafford threw for 201 yards and a TD (neith threw an interception). Philadelphia was 7 of 13 on third down tries in the City of Brotherly Love (they were 0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:18, while the Lions kept the pigskin for 27:42 and went 6 for 14 on third down tries.

The Chiefs lead the series 8-5 (which includes contests that were played at Swope Field in Kansas City and the Silverdome in Pontiac) and have outscored the Lions 323-293. Their last meeting was in London in 2015 and the —Chiefs were 45-10 winners (Kansas City’s last win in the United States came in 2003 at Arrowhead by a final of 45-17), while Detroit’s last win came in the Motor City in 2011, coming away 48-3 winners. The Chiefs may be the road team but the odds makers like them as 6 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 53 1/2. One of these teams could make the post-season and it’s possible that both could be in as well. Right now, there’s only one winner. Detroit will make things closer than the 6 1/2 but the Chiefs stay unbeaten in the 2019 campaign.

Carolina (1-2) at Houston (2-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. The Carolina Panthers, who will be without Cam Newton (broken foot) travel to the Lone Star State for a showdown with the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Both teams won huge road games in last week’s action.

The Panthers erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit at Arizona, taking a 14-10 lead with them to the intermission and coming away 38-20 winners over the Cardinals last Sunday. Panthers backup QB Kyle Allen connected with TE Greg Olson on two TD passes in the desert as Carolina outscored the Desert Angry Birds 24-10 in the second half. Carolina out-rushed the Cardinals 173-121 with Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey leading the way with 153 yards and a TD, while Arizona QB Kyler Murray led his team with 69 yards of rushing. Allen threw for 261 yards and four TDs (including the two Olson catches), while Murray threw for 173 yards with two TDs (Allen was sacked twice but did not throw an interception, while Murray was sacked eight times with two picks). Arizona went 9 of 17 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 31:44, while the Panthers kept the pigskin for 28:16, going 4 of 10 on third down.

The Texans erased a 17-7 intermission deficit against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park, holding off Philip Rivers and the Chargers 27-20. Houston got a pair of TD passes from DeShaun Watson to TE Jordan Akins to take a 27-17 lead with 9:40 left in the contest. The Chargers’ Ty Long would put his club to within three with 7:14 left with a 43-yard field goal and that would be as close as the Chargers would get, as the Texans would hold them off in the final seconds to take the road win. While the Chargers did out-rush Houston 73-39, Watson threw for 351 yards and three TDs (including the two to Akins) and was sacked twice, while Rivers threw for 318 yards and a pair of TDs to Keenan Allen (Rivers was sacked five times, neither man threw an interception). Houston went 6 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:12, while the Chargers actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:48, going 5 of 15 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

They’ve met four times and each team has two wins to their credit. Carolina has outscored Houston 83-78 and came away 24-17 winners in their last meeting in Charlotte in 2015, while the Texans’ last win in the series came in 2007 in the Tar Heel State by a final of 34-21. The Texans are favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Carolina, you have a problem. Houston covers the 4 1/2 and wins in the Lone Star State.

Oakland (1-2) at Indianapolis (2-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The Silver and Black plays their second game in the great indoors as they travel to the Hoosier State to face off against the Indianpolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Oakland found themselves being taken to task by Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday in the Twin Cites, coming out on the losing end by a final of 34-14 at US Bank Stadium. The Raiders, dropping their second contest in a row, trailed 21-7 at the half and could never really get on track, as Minnesota would proceed to outscore them 13-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Delvin Cook rushed for 110 yards and a TD as the Vikings out-rushed Oakland 211-88 and Cousins threw for 174 yards with a TD to WR Adam Thielen, while Derek Carr threw for 242 yards with a pair of TDs, four sacks and an interception (Cousins was not sacked and did not throw an interception). Oakland was 3 of 11 on third down (the Raiders were 2 of 3 on fourth down) and the Silver and Black kept the ball for 28:28, while Minnesota ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:32, going 5 of 9 on third down.

The Colts held off a late Atlanta rally in the final quarter and came away 27-24 winners over the Falcons at Indianapolis last Sunday. The Colts took a 20-6 lead at the half, then watched Atlanta outscore the Colts 21-7 in the final 30 minutes of play in the Hoosier State, pulling themselves to within 7 with 4:11 when Ryan and All-Pro WR Julio Jones connected on a 10-yard TD toss. The Colts would then get the ball back on the kickoff and run out the clock to take the win at Lucas Oil Stadium. Atlanta out-rushed the Colts 93-88 and Davonta Freeman led all rushers with 88 yards. Ryan threw for 304 yards and three TDs (two to TE Austih Hooper) with an interception but no sacks, while the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett threw for 310 yards and a pair of TDs with a sack (Marlon Mack led the Colts with 74 rushing yards and a TD). Atlanta was 8 of 10 on third down and the Falcons would keep the ball for 28:37, while the Colts ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 31:23, going 5 of 8 on third down.

Including games in Baltimore and Los Angeles, the Raiders hold an 8-7 lead in the series and have outscored the Colts 363-356. The Colts and Raiders met last year on the West Coast and the Colts would come away 42-28 winners (Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2016 on the West Coast by a final of 33-25)

Their week eight meet at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Colts trailed 14-13 at the intermission, then proceeded to take control of things in the second half by outscoring Oakland 29-14 the rest of the way, using 21 of those points in the final quarter thanks to a pair of Marlon Mack rushing TDs, the second coming with 2:55 left in the contest to seal Oakland’s fate. Mack ran for 132 yards with the two scores, as the Colts rushed for 222 yards and Oakland tallied 103 in the loss. Andrew Luck threw for 239 yards, while Derek Carr tallied 244 yards in the air (each threw three TDs and no sacks or interceptions). The Colts were 9 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 36:30, while the Raiders were 4 for 8 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 23:30.

Indianapolis, favored by 3 in the week eight contest, covered as they would win by 14 and both clubs covered the 49 over/under by tallying 70 points. Indy’s favored by a touchdown in the Hoosier State and the over/under’s 44 1/2. This one doesn’t have a lot of “Wow” factor but it will be somewhat entertaining to watch. Oakland will make this closer than the 7 but the Colts ride off with the win in the Hoosier State.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Miami (0-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of AFC foes looking to right their ships meet in the Sunshine State at winless Miami hosts the Los Angeles Chargers in an early afternoon (morning on the West Coast) contest. Both teams took losses in their contests last week.

The Bolts, who got RB Melvin Gordon back on the team this week, watched Houston erase a 17-7 intermission deficit against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park last Sunday, holding off Philip Rivers and the Chargers 27-20. Houston got a pair of TD passes from DeShaun Watson to TE Jordan Akins to take a 27-17 lead with 9:40 left in the contest. The Chargers’ Ty Long would put his club to within three with 7:14 left with a 43-yard field goal and that would be as close as the Chargers would get, as the Texans would hold them off in the final seconds to take the road win. While the Chargers did out-rush Houston 73-39, Watson threw for 351 yards and three TDs (including the two to Akins) and was sacked twice, while Rivers threw for 318 yards and a pair of TDs to Keenan Allen (Rivers was sacked five times, neither man threw an interception). Houston went 6 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:12, while the Chargers actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:48, going 5 of 15 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Dallas held Miami to a pair of first-half field goals at AT&T Stadium last Sunday, as they took care of the Dolphins 31-6. Dallas led 10-6 at the half, then proceeded to take control of things in the final 30 minutes of play, shutting out Miami in the second half by scoring the last 21 points of the contest unchallenged. Ezekiel Elliott (125) and rookie RB Tony Pollard (103 yards, TD) led the Cowboys as Dallas out-rushed Miami 235-72 and Prescott threw for 246 yards and a pair of TDs to Amari Cooper (Prescott was sacked once and threw an interception), while Miami’s Josh Rosen threw for 200 yards but was sacked three times. Dallas was 5 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:56, while the Dolphins were 3 of 15 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:04.

Including games played in San Diego and the Orange Bowl, Miami leads the series 16-13, the ‘Fins have outscored the Chargers 646-645 and have won the last two meetings in the series, the last coming in Los Angeles in 2017 by a final of 19-17, while Los Angeles’ last win came in San Diego in 2015, with the Chargers 30-14 victors. The Chargers are favored by 15 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. Granted, Miami’s bad but not 15 1/2 bad. While the Chargers win this one in the Sunshine State, expect Miami to make it hard for the Chargers to cover.

Washington (0-3) at New York Giants (1-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. New QBs, same rivalry. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in upstate New Jersey as the Giants host the Washington Redskins at Met Life Stadium. The Giants picked up their first win last week on the road in the Sunshine State, while the Redskins are looking to secure their first win in the 2019 campaign.

Washington proved to be no match for Chicago at Fed Ex Field and Chicago took care of the Redskins 31-15 Monday night in Landover. Chicago led 28-3 at the break and was never challenged by Washington in the prime-time contest. Da Bears out-rushed Washington 90-69 and Bears safety Clinton Ha-Ha Dix burned his team with an interception return for a TD to open the scoring. Trubisky threw for 231 yards and three TD passes to WR Taylor Gabriel with three sacks and an interception, while Case Keenum threw for 332 yards and a pair of TDs, tallying four sacks and three interceptions in the contest. Chicago was 8 of 13 on third down tries in Landover and kept the ball for 31:36, while Washington, who held on to the ball for 28:24, went 3 of 9 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

The Giants, with rookie QB Daniel Jones under center after Eli Manning was benched, rallied his club from a 28-10 deficit at halftime to come away with the 32-31 win over Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Big Blue would out-score Tampa Bay 22-3 in the final 30 minutes of play and Jones scored the game-winning TD with 76 seconds left in regulation. Jones threw for 336 yards and a TD to WR Sterling Shepherd as well as the game-winning rushing score, while Winston threw for 380 yards and three TDs to Mike Evans (Evans had eight catches for 190 yards; Jones was sacked five times, Winston was sacked four and threw an interception) and the Bucs out-rushed Big Blue 144-72. The Giants were 6 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:48, while Tampa Bay ruled the clock and kept the ball for 33:12, going 4 of 14 on third down tries (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Includings games played in Boston, when the Redskins were known as the Boston Braves and the Giants played their home games at Yankee Stadium and the Yale Bowl, the Giants lead the series 100-68-4 and Big Blue has outscored Washington 3,487-3,081. The two clubs split last year’s series, each winning on the other’s field.

The first meeting? Week eight in the Meadowlands and Washington left Met Life Stadium with a 20-13 win over Eli and the Giants. Washington led 7-3 at the intermission and controled things in the second half, outscoring the Giants 13-10 in the second half. New York would make the contest a 7-point affair with 17 seconds left when Manning and TE Evan Engram connected on a 2-yard TD toss. The Giants would then try an onside kick, which Washington recovered and the Redskins went on to run out the clock in the Meadowlands and take the win. Washington rushed for 182 yards, with RB Adrian Peterson leading everyone with 149 yards and a TD, holding the Giants to 37. Mamming threw for 316 yards and the Engram TD but was sacked seven times and picked off twice, while Redskins QB Alex Smith threw for 176 and a TD to Peterson (Smith was not sacked and did not throw an interception). Washington went 6 of 16 on third down and held the ball for 33:38; the Giants would keep the pigskin for 26:22 and went 2 of 14 and 3 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Giants would get revenge in Landover in week 14, taking a 40-16 win at Fed Ex Field. Eli and the Giants led 34-0 at the intermission, then led 40-0 at the end of three quarters before the Redskins would score all 16 of their points in the contest unchallenged. Manning (197 yards) threw three TDs in the contest with a pair of sacks but no interceptions, as the Giants out-rushed Washington 227-87, with Sequan Barkley leading all rushers with 170 yards and a TD. Washington’s Mark Sanchez threw for 38 yards with five sacks and a pair of interceptions before giving way to Josh Johnson, who threw for 195 yards and a TD. The Giants were 4 of 13 on third down tries in Landover and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 30:09, while the Redskins held on to the ball for 29:51, going 2 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week eight contest in upstate New Jersey, Washington was favored by 1 and covered the spread, winning by 7. Both teams missed the 42 over/under, tallying 33 points. The Giants not only won the week 14 rematch in Landover, they covered the 1 1/2-point spread, winning by 24 and this time, both clubs covered the over/under (42 1/2), tallying 56 points. The Giants are favored by 3 in the Meadowlands and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Redskins fans want to sing “Hail to the Redskins,” instead of “Hell, it’s the Redskins!” this week. The Giants are going to delay that a week. Giants cover the 3 and takes the win in upstate New Jersey.

Seattle (2-1) at Arizona (0-2-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. A pair of NFC West rivals meet in the desert as Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks face off against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Both teams lost at home last week and are looking to catch the first-place Los Angeles Rams in the division.

Seattle fell behind the Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints last Sunday in the Pacific Northwest and lost 33-27 at Century Link Field. The Seahawks trailed 20-7 at the break but managed to outscore New Orleans 20-13 in the second half. Seattle managed to out-rush the Saints 109-88, even though Saints RB Alvin Kamara led all rushers with 69 yards and a TD. Wilson threw for 406 yards and a pair of TDs, including a toss to TE Will Dissly as time expired, while Teddy Bridgewater, taking over for Brees, threw for 177 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Kamara). Seattle went 5 of 14 on third down (the Seahawks were 1 of 4 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:33, while the Saints kept the ball for 28:27, going 3 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Arizona watched Carolina erase a 7-0 first quarter deficit in Glendale, then trailed 14-10 at the intermission to lose to the Panthers 38-20 last Sunday. Panthers backup QB Kyle Allen connected with TE Greg Olson on two TD passes in the desert as Carolina outscored the Desert Angry Birds 24-10 in the second half. Carolina out-rushed the Cardinals 173-121 with Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey leading the way with 153 yards and a TD, while Arizona QB Kyler Murray led his team with 69 yards of rushing. Allen threw for 261 yards and four TDs (including the two Olson catches), while Murray threw for 173 yards with two TDs (Allen was sacked twice but did not throw an interception, while Murray was sacked eight times with two picks). Arizona went 9 of 17 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 31:44, while the Panthers kept the pigskin for 28:16, going 4 of 10 on third down.

While Arizona leads the series 20-19-1, the Seahawks have actually outscored the Desert Angry Birds 996-774 and have won three of their last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (Arizona’s last win came in 2017, when the Desert Angry Birds came away with a 26-24 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks).

Their first meeting took place in week four in Glendale at State Farm Stadium. Seattle erased a 10-7 deficit at the break in the desert, then broke a 17-17 tie in the final seconds and came away 20-17 winners. The Seahawks took a 17-10 lead with them into the final 15 minutes of action before the Desert Angry Birds would tie the contest with 8:59 left in regulation when Josh Rosen and WR Chad Williams connected on a 22-yard TD pass. Arizona could have taken the lead for themselves with 1:55 left but Pat Dawson’s 45-yard field goal missed wide right, giving Seattle the ball with 1:50 left. The Seahawks would then use a 7-play, 31-yard drive that used all of the 1:50 and sent Cardinals fans home sad when Sebastian Janikowski split the uprights with a 52-yard field goal as time expired.

Seattle out-rushed Arizona 171-92 (Seattle’s Mike Davis led all rushers with 101 yards and a pair of TDs) and Wilson threw for 172 yards; while Wilson did not throw a TD, he was sacked twice and Rosen threw for 180 yards with one sack and the lone TD toss (neither threw an interception). Seattle struggled on third down tries in the desert (0 of 10) but found some success on fourth down, going 1 of 2 and kept the ball for 31:46, including the final 1:50 of the contest. As for Arizona? They were 5 of 12 on third down, keeping the ball for 28:14.

Seattle put Janikowski’s leg to good use in the rematach in week 17 and as was the case in the first meeting, the second contest went down to the wire at Century Link Field and once again it was Seattle that would prevail with the 27-24 win over the Cardinals. Seattle led 14-13 at the break in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and had a 21-13 lead with 11 seconds left in the third quarter when Arizona LB Dennis Gardeck blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone to tie the contest up at 21-21 (Arizona would go for a two-conversion and was successful in the attempt). Janikowski and Zane Gonzalez would trade field goals in the fourth quarter before the Seahawks got the ball back with 1:49 left in regulation. Seattle would use all of that 1:49, taking an 8-play, 60-yard drive down the field, where Janikowski would connect on a 33-yard field goal as the clock struck :00.

As was the case in the first meeting, Seattle out-rushed Arizona, this time tallying 182 yards to the Cardinals’ 85 and Wilson threw for 152 yards with a TD to Tyler Lockett with a, interception, while Rosen accounted for 149 yards and no interceptions (each was sacked six times). Seattle again struggled on third down tries in the Pacific Northwest, going 4 of 14 and kept the ball for 29:09, including the final 1:49, while Arizona ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:51, going 4 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Seattle, the favorite on the road, covered the 3-point spread in the week four contest in Glendale but both clubs missed the 39 over/under by 2 points. The Seahawks were favored again in the week 17 contest at home, this time by 13 1/2. Once again, the Seahawks would win by three but this time, both teams covered the over/under of 38 1/2 by tallying 51 ponts. Seattle’s favored by 5 and the over/under’s 48. Both teams want to catch and pass the Rams to be on top of the NFC West mountain. Seahawks win in the desert and cover the 5.

Tampa Bay (1-2) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. The Rams returns to the West Coast for a late afternoon (Eastern time) contest with Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Coliseum.

Winston and Tampa Bay let a 28-10 lead at the half against the New York Giants get away from them as Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones went under center and led his club to a 32-31 win over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Big Blue would out-score Tampa Bay 22-3 in the final 30 minutes of play and Jones scored the game-winning TD with 76 seconds left in regulation. Jones threw for 336 yards and a TD to WR Sterling Shepherd as well as the game-winning rushing score, while Winston threw for 380 yards and three TDs to Mike Evans (Evans had eight catches for 190 yards; Jones was sacked five times, Winston was sacked four and threw an interception) and the Bucs out-rushed Big Blue 144-72. The Giants were 6 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:48, while Tampa Bay ruled the clock and kept the ball for 33:12, going 4 of 14 on third down tries (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

The defending NFC champs kept their unbeaten streak in tact last Sunday night along the shores of Lake Erie as they held off a late Cleveland rally and beat the Rams 20-13 at First Energy Stadium. Jared Goff and the Rams trailed 6-3 at the intermission before Goff connected on a pair of TD passes to Cooper Kupp, the second one giving Los Angeles the lead back for keeps with 12:48 left in the contest. Greg Zuerlein would then add a 37-yard field goal to push the lead to a 3-point margin and the Rams stopped Baker Mayfield inside their 10-yard line as four of Mayfield’s passes fell incomplete in the final seconds of the contest.

Cleveland out-rushed Los Angeles 95-90 with Browns RB Nick Chubb leading all rusher with 96 yards, while former Georgia teammate Todd Gurley leading Los Angeles with 48. Goff threw for 268 yards with the two Kupp TDs (he was sacked twice and picked off twice), while Mayfield threw for 195 yards with a TD, three sacks and an interception. The Rams in the Sunday night contest along the shores of Lake Erie went 6 of 14 on third down and held the ball for 28:23. As for the Browns? They were 6 of 16 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down but ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:37.

Including contests in St. Louis and Anaheim, the Rams lead the series 14-8, they have out-scored the Buccaneers 530-451 and have won the last five meetings, including a 37-32 win in the Sunshine State in 2016, while Tampa Bay’s last win came in Tampa Bay by a final of 18-17 in 2010. The Rams find themselves as 9 1/2 popint favorites on the West Coast and the over/under’s 49. Tampa Bay’s good… the Rams are a little better. The Buccaneers are going to make this one closer than 9 1/2 but the Rams remain among the unbeaten and takes the win at home.

Minnesota (2-1) at Chicago (2-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. They meet again and round one is in the Windy City. Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears host Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field in a late-afternoon match along the shores of Lake Michigan between NFC North rivals.

Cousins and Minnesota took care of Oakland last Sunday in the Twin Cites, taking a 34-14 win over the Silver and Black at US Bank Stadium. The Vikings led 21-7 at the half and could never really get on track, as Minnesota would proceed to outscore them 13-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Delvin Cook rushed for 110 yards and a TD as the Vikings out-rushed Oakland 211-88 and Cousins threw for 174 yards with a TD to WR Adam Thielen, while Derek Carr threw for 242 yards with a pair of TDs, four sacks and an interception (Cousins was not sacked and did not throw an interception). Oakland was 3 of 11 on third down (the Raiders were 2 of 3 on fourth down) and the Silver and Black kept the ball for 28:28, while Minnesota ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:32, going 5 of 9 on third down.

Washington proved to be no match for Da Bears, as Chicago went into Fed Ex Field and took care of the Redskins 31-15 Monday night in Landover. Chicago led 28-3 at the break and was never challenged by Washington in the prime-time contest. Da Bears out-rushed Washington 90-69 and Clinton Ha-Ha Dix burned his team with an interception return for a TD to open the scoring. Trubisky threw for 231 yards and three TD passes to WR Taylor Gabriel with three sacks and an interception, while Case Keenum threw for 332 yards and a pair of TDs, tallying four sacks and three interceptions in the contest. Chicago was 8 of 13 on third down tries in Landover and kept the ball for 31:36, while Washington, who held on to the ball for 28:24, went 3 of 9 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Including contests that were played at Wrigley Field, Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and the Metrodome, the Vikings lead the series 60-53-2 and have outscored Chicago 2,414-2,230. However… Da Bears have won the last two meetings, sweeping the series last year (Minnesota’s last win came in 2017 in the Twin Cities by a final of 23-10).

Chicago and Minnesota met in the Windy City in week 11 and Chicago took a 14-0 lead with them, then held off a late Minnesota rally at Soldier Field to come away 25-20 winners. Minnesota would out-score Da Bears 20-11 in the last 30 minutes of action, pulling themselves to within five with 48 seconds left when Cousins and WR Stefan Diggs connected on a 5-yard TD toss. Chicago, out-rushing Minnesota 148-22, recovered the onside kick and sealed the win for the home team. Trubisky threw for 165 yards and a TD with a sack, while Cousins threw for 262 yards with two TDs and two sacks (both Trubisky and Cousins threw two interceptions). Chicago went 6 of 12 on third down and held the ball for 34:29, while the Vikings kept the ball for 25:31, going 5 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

They met again in the Twin Cities in week 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium and for Chicago, second verse same as the first. Da Bears took a 13-3 lead with them to the break and left the Land of 10,000 Lakes 24-10 winners. Bears RB Juwan Howard accounted for Chicago’s first two TDs in the contest before the Vikings would pull themselves to within 7 with 1:51 left in the third when Cousins and Diggs connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Chicago would score 11 fourth quarter points unchallenged to seal the deal and the NFC North title. Howard rushed for 109 yards to go with the two TDs as Da Bears out-rushed Minnesota 169-63 and Trubisky threw for 163 yards with no interceptions or sacks, while Cousins threw for 132 yards with four sacks but no interceptions. Chicago went 8 of 14 on third down (Da Bears were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 37:08 to Minnesota’s 22:52 (the Vikings were a dismal 1 of 11 on third down, 1 of 4 on fourth down).

In the week 11 meeting along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago was favored by 3 and won by 5, allowing them to cover the spread. The two clubs barely missed the over/under (they combined for 45 points) by 1/2 a point. Minnesota was favored by 5 in the week 17 contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Chicago covered, winning by 14. The 41 over/under was safe, as both teams combined for 34 points. Vegas likes Da Bears as 2 1/2 point favorites in the Windy City and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Both teams would like nothing more than to knock Green Bay out of first place in the NFC North but to do that, they would have to knock each other off. Someone’s going come away a little bloody and someone’s going to come out of this on top. The Monsters of the Midway take care of business in the Windy City Sunday afternoon and covers the 2 1/2.

Jacksonville (1-2) at Denver (0-3), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. A pair of struggling AFC teams meet in the Mile High City as Denver hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Jacksonville held Tennessee to a third quarter TD by RB Derrick Henry and came away against their AFC South rivals 20-7 last Thursday night. Jacksonville led 14-0 at the break, scoring both of those TDs in the first quarter, using TD passes from Gardner Minshew to TE James O’Shaughnessy to open the scoring in the contest and then a toss to WR J.J. Chark Jr. at TIAA Field. Tennessee did out-rush Jacksonville 91-88 in the Thursday night contest and Marcus Mariota threw for 304 yards but was sacked nine times, while Minshew threw for 204 yards with no sacks (neither threw an interception). Tennessee went 8 for 17 on third down and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 35:16, while Jacksonville kept the pigskin for 24:44, going 2 of 11 on third down (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

Denver watched Green Bay pick up their third win in a row, taking care of Joe Flacco and the Broncos 27-16 at Lambeau Field last Sunday afternoon. The Packers led 17-10 at the intermission, then proceeded to outpace Denver 10-6 in the last 30 minutes of play. While Denver out-rushed Green Bay 149-77 (Denver’s Phillip Lindsay led all rushers with 81 yards and a pair of TDs), Rodgers took care of Denver’s secondary, throwing for 235 yards with a TD and no sacks or interceptions, while Flacco threw for 213 yards with six sacks and an interception. Green Bay went 2 of 9 on third down and held on to the ball for 24:26, while Denver actually ruled the clock and held on to the pigskin for 35:34, going 8 of 15 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The series? Even at 5-5. Denver has outscored Jacksonville 221-188 and has won the last two meetings, including taking a 20-10 win in the Sunshine State in 2016 (Jacksonville’s last win over Denver came in 2010 at home by a final of 24-17). Denver’s favored by 3 in the Mile High City and the over/under’s 37 1/2. Denver breaks their 3-game losing streak at home, taking the win in the Mile High City and covering the 3.

Dallas (3-0) at New Orleans (2-1), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Sunday action in week four concludes in the Big Easy as Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys make their way to New Orleans to face off against the Saints in a meeting of two teams, sitting in first place in their respective divisions.

Prescott and the Cowboys held Miami to a pair of first-half field goals at AT&T Stadium last Sunday, as they took care of the Dolphins 31-6. Dallas led 10-6 at the half, then proceeded to take control of things in the final 30 minutes of play, shutting out Miami in the second half by scoring the last 21 points of the contest unchallenged. Ezekiel Elliott (125) and rookie RB Tony Pollard (103 yards, TD) led the Cowboys as Dallas out-rushed Miami 235-72 and Prescott threw for 246 yards and a pair of TDs to Amari Cooper (Prescott was sacked once and threw an interception), while Miami’s Josh Rosen threw for 200 yards but was sacked three times. Dallas was 5 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:56, while the Dolphins were 3 of 15 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:04.

The Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints took care of business last Sunday in the Pacific Northwest against Seattle, coming away 33-27 victors at Century Link Field. New Orleans led through the contest and had a 20-7 lead at the break before the Seahawks managed to outscore New Orleans 20-13 in the second half. Seattle managed to out-rush the Saints 109-88, even though Saints RB Alvin Kamara led all rushers with 69 yards and a TD. Wilson threw for 406 yards and a pair of TDs, including a toss to TE Will Dissly as time expired, while Teddy Bridgewater, taking over for Brees, threw for 177 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Kamara). Seattle went 5 of 14 on third down (the Seahawks were 1 of 4 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:33, while the Saints kept the ball for 28:27, going 3 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Dallas leads the series 17-12, the Cowboys have out-scored the Saints 604-560 and they won last year’s contest in Arlington by a final of 13-10 (New Orleans’ last win came in 2015 in the Big Easy, as the Saints would need overtime to take a 26-20 win). They met in Arlington in week 13 and each team scored their points unchallenged. Dallas would take a 13-0 lead with them to the break before New Orleans would respond with their 10 points of the game unchallenged (the two clubs played a scoreless fourth quarter). Dallas outrushed the Saints 100-65 (Elliott led all rushers with 76 yards and a passing TD), while Prescott threw for 248 yards (Brees threw for 127 yards with a TD but was sacked twice and picked off once) in the win. Dallas went 7 of 14 on third down tries at AT&T Stadium and kept the ball for 36:53 in the 3-point home win, while the Saints kept the ball for 23:07, while going 3 of 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In the week 13 contest in the Lone Star State on the Thursday night after Thanksgiving, New Orleans was favored by 7 1/2 and while Dallas did win, they only won by 3 and neither team touched the 52 1/2 over/under, tallying only 23 points. Dallas is favored in the Big Easy by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 47. Dallas would like nothing more than to go 4-0 to start the season, while New Orleans wants to end Dallas’ 3-game win streak. Sorry, Saints fans. Dallas covers the 2 1/2 and wins in the Big Easy.

Cincinnati (0-3) at Pittsburgh (0-3), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Forget the records. These AFC North rivals DON’T like each other. Don’t expect any Facebook friend requests and don’t except them to follow each other on Twitter. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh close out the action in week four as the AFC North rivals meet at Heinz Field. Both lost on the road last week and both are searching for their first win of the 2019 campaign.

A late Cincinnati rally fell short in Orchard Park as the Bengals fell to Buffalo 21-17 at New Era Stadium last Sunday. The Bills led 14-0 at the intermission in upstate New York, then watched the Bengals outscore Buffalo 17-7 in the final 30 minutes of play to make the contest closer than Bills fans would like. Buffalo ran for 175 yards, holding the Bengals to 67 yards (Bills RB Frank Gore led all rushers with 76 yards and a TD), while Josh Allen threw for 243 yards for the Bills with an interception (Andy Dalton threw for 249 yards and two interceptions and a pair of sacks; both Dalton and Allen threw a TD in the contest). The Bengals, who turned the ball over three times in upstate New York, went 3 for 11 on third down conversions and held on to the ball for 23:06, while Buffalo ruled the clock and circled their wagons around the ball, keeping it for 36:54 and went 5 of 13 on third down tries.

Pittsburgh let a 6-3 lead at the intermission at San Francisco get away from them as the 49ers with WR Dante Pettis and QB Jimmy Garoppolo connected on a 5-yard TD toss with 75 seconds left in their contest at Levis’ Stadium, coming away 24-20 victors over the Steelers. Chris Boswell put the Steelers on the board with a pair of first quarter field goals before San Francisco’s Robbie Gould narrowed the gap to three in the second. The Steelers would lead 20-17 late in the contest before San Francisco went on a 7-play, 24-yard drive that used 4:14 of clock and ended with Pettis and Garoppolo connecting on the game-winning score.

San Francisco out-rushed Pittsburgh 168-79 and rookie QB Mason Rudolph, taking over for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, threw for 174 yards and a pair of TDs (one to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster) and was sacked twice with an interception, while Garoppolo threw for 277 yards and the game-winning TD, adding a sack and a pair of interceptions to his tally. Pittsburgh turned the ball over twice (they forced five San Francisco turnovers) and went 3 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 23:43, while the 49ers held on to the pig skin for 36:17, going 6 for 11 on third down tries.

The Steelers lead the series 62-35, Pittsburgh has outscored the Bengals 2,144-1,707 and the Steelers have won the last seven contests, including sweeping last year’s series (Cincinnati’s last win over Pittsburgh came in the Steel City in 2015 by a final of 16-10).

Their first meeting? Week six in Cincinnati and the Steelers rallied in the final seconds of their contest along the shores of the Ohio River and came out on top 28-21. Tied 14-14 at the half, the Steelers would take a late lead by 6 with 3:32 left in the game after Chris Boswell kicked his second field goal of the half. Cincinnati would taie the lead back with 78 seconds left when Joe Mixon scored on a 4-yard TD run. Pittsburgh, needing to rally, used a 7-play, 77-yard drive that took 68 seconds of clock and ended when Antonio Brown and Roethlisberger connected on a 31-yard TD toss with 10 seconds left. Pittssburgh then elected to go for two and made that plan a reality when Roethlisberger and WR JuJu Smith-Schuester connected on the two-point try. The Bengals then would get the ball back, getting as close as their own 38 yard, when Dalton’s desperation pass fell short.

Pittsburgh out-rushed the Bengals in the Queen City 112-62 (Steelers RB James Conner led all rushers with 111 yards and a pair of TDs) and Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards, while Dalton threw for 229 yards and a pair of TDs to Tyler Boyd with three sacks (neither threw an interception). Both teams did well on third down conversions in the first meeting; Pittsburgh was 8 of 14, Cincinnati was 6 of 12 and the Steelers ruled the clock and kept the ball for 34:56 to Cincinnati’s 25:04.

The Steelers made it a clean sweep of the series and as was the case in the first meeting, needed to rally from behind, coming away 16-13 winners at Heinz Field. With a potential playoff berth on the line, the Steelers trailed 10-3 at the half (they were scoreless after the first quarter), then took a 13-10 lead with 8:35 left in the contest when a 47-yard field goal by K Matt McCrane gave them the lead. That lead would not last very long as Bengals K Randy Bullock would even things back up with 6:17 left, booting a 32-yard field goal. Pittsburgh then used a 12-play, 58-yard drive that used 4:21 of clock and reclaimed the lead with McCrane kicking his second field goal of the half, this time from 35 yards out.

The Bengals would have one last chance to beat Pittsburgh and damage their playoff hopes as Jeff Driskell, who took over for Dalton, got his team as close as their 40-yard line, when his pass on fourth down fell incomplete, giving the Steelers the win. The win was too little too late for the Steelers, as the Ravens had beaten Cleveland in Baltimore as Steeler players and watched the game on the Heinz Field video screen. Mixon rushed for 105 yards as Cincinnati out-rushed Pittsburgh 125-65 and Roethlisberger threw for 287 yards with the TD, a sack and an interception, while Driskell threw for 95 yards with four sacks. Pittsburgh went 5 of 15 on third down (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:22, while the Bengals, who kept the ball for 25:38, went 3 of 12 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week six contest, Cincinnati was favored by 2 1/2 and the Steelers covered, winning by 7. The two clubs tallied 49 points, missing the over/under by 4. In the season finale, the Steelers were favored by 14 1/2 but won by only 3 points and the 45 1/2 over/under was untouched, as both clubs combined for only 29 points.

Cincinnati on Monday night? 11-24 and the Bengals have lost their last four meetings in prime time (their last appearance was in 2017, their last win came in 2014). The Steelers have done a lot better, going 46-24 under the lights, winning their last six MNF contests (their last loss came in 2013). Pittsburgh’s favored by 4 and the over/under’s 44. You’re better off watching “Bob Hearts Abishola” this week. One losing streak will end, the other will continue. Steelers celebrate at Heinz and takes the win, covering the 4.

One week down. 16 to go.

The celebration continues.

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL100 Game of the Week. Each game will be a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL has designated the Cleveland-New York Jets matchup as the Week 2 NFL100 GAME OF THE WEEK because Monday Night Football, now in its 50th season, began with a Browns-Jets contest – and an American cultural institution was born. With Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the booth, on September 21, 1970, Cleveland topped the Jets 31-21 at Municipal Stadium in the season-opener. Cleveland’s Homer Jones scored to open the second half on a 94-yard kickoff return and the Browns’ Billy Andrews intercepted Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath and scored on a 25-yard return to ice the game late in the fourth quarter. This week’s game will be the 781st in Monday Night Football history.

Rookies exploding onto the scene, flawless passer ratings, long-distance strikes and white-knuckle comebacks highlighted maybe the most thrilling Kickoff Weekend ever. What will the NFL do for an encore?

This week’s NFC Championship rematch could be a classic in the making. Fresh off a last-second victory to open 2019, Drew Brees and New Orleans travel to meet the Los Angels Rams, who defeated Carolina. It’s one of six rematches of last season’s playoff games on the NFL schedule. Head coaches Sean Payton and Sean McVay, two of the top offensive minds in the game, each saw their teams score 30 points in their victorious season openers. They weren’t alone in putting points on the scoreboard.

On the heels of the most prolific offensive season in its history, the NFL picked up where it left off. The league combined for 90 touchdowns, most ever on Kickoff Weekend (89 in 2002 and 2011). Teams also combined for 776 points, the third-highest total in league history for an opening week. Only the 791 points in Week 1 of 2012 and the 788 in 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 teams, were higher. Baltimore led the way, heading to the halftime locker room with 42 points, the most by any team ever in a season-opening half. Kansas City and Tennessee also posted 40-plus points in their games, marking the first opening week ever in which three road teams scored 40-or-more points. And points most certainly weren’t the only common thread.

To recap Week 1 (ICYMI):

ROOKIE PASS-CATCHERS: Four rookies – Tennessee’s A.J. Brown (100), Baltimore’s Marquise Brown (147), Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson (131) and Washington’s TERRY McLAURIN (125) – posted 100-yard receiving games in their NFL debuts. It marked the first week ever in which more than two rookies recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts. Hockenson’s total broke the 59-year-old NFL record held by Monty Stickles (123) for a tight end in his debut. Marquise Brown, meanwhile, became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut.

UNPRECEDENTED PASSER RATINGS: Thirteen quarterbacks had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts). That’s the most in any week in NFL history, breaking the record of 12 set in Week 3 of the 2017 season. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Dallas’ DAK PRESCOTT became the first players to post the highest-attainable passer rating (158.3) in a season-opener (minimum of 20 attempts), with Jackson (22 years, 244 days) becoming the youngest player to finish any game with a 158.3 passer rating (minimum of 20 attempts).

EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Overall, 15 offensive touchdowns covered at least 40 yards, an NFL record for Kickoff Weekend. The prior record was 14 in 1991. With two more Sunday, Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson (31) joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36) as the only players to record more than 30 touchdowns of 50-plus yards in NFL history.

CONTAGIOUS COMEBACKS: New Orleans scored twice in the final minute to deny Houston 30-28, in a Monday night opener for the ages. In NFL history among season-opening games, Saints kicker Wil Lutz (58 yards) recorded the longest game-winning field goal with no time remaining. Five triumphant clubs erased second-half deficits. Buffalo trailed 16-0 and won and Philadelphia trailed 17-0 before winning. The only other year in which multiple teams overcame deficits of at least 16 points to win their Week 1 games was 1999, when both Arizona and Dallas closed 21-point gaps to win on Kickoff Weekend. Also this past weekend, both Indianapolis and Arizona trailed 24-9 in the second half and sent their games to overtime.​

HOPE REMAINS IN ABUNDANCE: In 2018, seven teams opened 2-0. Only two – Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams – made the postseason.

Since 1990, when the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format, 144 of the 235 teams (61.3 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason. Since 1978, when NFL teams began playing 16-game schedules and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, 195 of the 313 teams (62.3 percent) to start 2-0 advanced to the postseason. Of those 313 teams, only 128 (40.9 percent) won their division titles.

INTRA-CONFERENCE CLASHES: In addition to the Saints and Rams, two other Week 2 games feature match-ups of 1-0 teams. Earlier, at Lambeau Field, Green Bay with a win over Minnesota at 1 p.m. on FOX, can start the year with a 2-0 record in the NFC North, and start 2-0 overall for the first time since 2015. In Oakland, the Raiders can also jump to 2-0 in their division with a win over Kansas City at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 with at least 100 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns in his NFL debut. Meanwhile, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has more passing yards (5,759) and passing touchdowns (53) than any player ever over his first 20 games. The Kansas City-Oakland game is one of seven division contests to dot the schedule.

FAMILIAR TERRITORY: After authoring an incredible comeback to defeat the New  York Jets last week, Buffalo returns to MetLife Stadium to meet the New York Giants. It’s the first time a road team has played at the same stadium in consecutive weeks since BALTIMORE did it Oct. 16-23, 2016, also at MetLife Stadium. Miami later this season will also travel to New York in consecutive weeks, Dec. 8-15.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: 11 quarterbacks have had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts) through 13 games in Week 1, tied with Week 13 of the 2004 season (11) and Week 12 of the 1995 season (11) for the second-most in any week since 1970. Only Week 3 of the 2017 season (12) had more quarterbacks record a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts).

Four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards), Baltimore wide receiver Marquise Brown (147), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson (131) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts on Kickoff Weekend.

It marks the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history.

With 131 receiving yards, Hockenson surpassed Monty Stickles (123 receiving yards on September 25, 1960) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in his NFL debut in league history.

Baltimore defeated Miami 59-10 on Kickoff Weekend. Baltimore scored 42 points in the first half, the most by any team in the first half of a season-opening game in NFL history. The Ravens, who scored 47 points on Kickoff Weekend in 2018, are the fifth team in league annals and first since the 1967-68 Oakland Raiders to score at least 40 points in consecutive season-opening games.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 17 of 20 attempts for 324 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the victory. Jackson is the seventh quarterback in NFL history and first since Ben Roethlisberger (November 11, 2018) with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, in a single game in NFL history.

Baltimore rookie wide receiver Marquise Brownrecorded touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards on his first two catches in his NFL debut. Brown became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut and his 83-yard touchdown reception is the second-longest by a player in his NFL debut in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Rick Upchurch (90-yard touchdown reception on September 21, 1975).

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns for a 143.2 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 40-26 win at Jacksonville.

Mahomes, who has 5,759 passing yards in 18 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (5,613 passing yards) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 20 career games in NFL history. Mahomes’ 53 touchdown passes are also the most by any player in his first 20 career games.

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins had nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Watkins is the fourth player in NFL history to record at least 195 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in a season-opening game, joining Frank Clarke (September 16, 1962), Irving Fryar (September 4, 1994) and Hugh Taylor (September 28, 1947).

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed 88 percent of his pass attempts (22 of 25), the highest completion percentage (minimum 15 attempts) by a quarterback in his NFL debut in league annals. Minshew completed his first 13 pass attempts, the longest streak to start a career among players who made their NFL debut over the past 40 seasons.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed 25 of 32 attempts for 405 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 rating in the Cowboys’ 35-17 victory against the New York Giants.

Prescott is the fourth quarterback to register a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, on 30-or-more pass attempts in NFL history, joining Jared Goff (33 attempts on September 27, 2018), Ken O’Brien (32 attempts on November 2, 1986) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (30 attempts on October 1, 2000).

The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS defeated Indianapolis 30-24 in overtime while Arizona and Detroit played to a 27-27 tie at State Farm Stadium on Kickoff Weekend. At least one game on Kickoff Weekend has gone to overtime in five of the past six seasons.

Sunday’s contest between the Cardinals and Lions marked the second consecutive season in which a game ended in a tie in Week 1 and the third tie overall on Kickoff Weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns tied on September 9, 2018, while the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos played to a 10-10 tie on September 19, 1971.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler totaled 154 scrimmage yards (96 receiving, 58 rushing) and three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) in the victory. Ekeler is the first undrafted player to record at least 150 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game since Dan Reeves (156 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns) on November 5, 1967.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald recorded eight catches for 113 yards and one touchdown, the 117th touchdown catch of his NFL career. He surpassed Antonio Gates (116 touchdown receptions) for the sixth-most in NFL history.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson had 154 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including 51-yard and 53-yard touchdown catches, in the Eagles’ 32-27 win against Washington. He has six career games of at least 100 receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

Jackson has 31 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (29) for the second-most in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36) has more in league annals.

Other notable performances from Sunday include:

Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey had 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with 10 receptions for 81 yards, in the Panthers’ Week 1 loss against the Los Angeles Rams.

McCaffrey, who also had 125 rushing yards and 11 receptions in Week 12 of the 2018 season, is the first player in the Super Bowl era to record at least 120 rushing yards and 10 receptions in multiple games.

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell totaled 92 scrimmage yards (60 rushing, 32 receiving) and a touchdown reception in the Jets’ Week 1 loss at home agaisnt Buffalo.

Bell, who has 8,088 scrimmage yards in 63 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (64 games) to become the fastest player to reach 8,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK TWO

NO NEED TO PANIC: Since realignment in 2002, 126 of the 204 playoff teams (61.8 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including 10 teams last season, the most since 2002, and six division champions – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East), Houston (AFC South), New England (AFC East) and New Orleans (NFC South).​

Last season, Houston became the first team in NFL history to win nine consecutive games following an 0-3 start. They also were the first team to win its division after starting 0-3 since the San Diego Chargers in 1992.

A look at how playoff clubs in 2017 and 2018 began their seasons:

2017
Team (After 2 games, Playoff Result)
ATLANTA (2-0, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Buffalo (1-1, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Carolina (2-0, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Jacksonville (1-1, Advanced to AFC Championship)
Kansas City (2-0, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Los Angeles Rams (1-1, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Kansas City (2-0, Advanced to AFC Championship)
Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Los Angeles Rams (2-0, Advanced to Super Bowl LIII)
Philadelphia (1-1, Won Super Bowl LII)
Pittsburgh (2-0, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Tennessee (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
2018​
Team (After 2 games, Playoff Result)
Baltimore (1-1, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Chicago (1-1, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Dallas (1-1, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Houston (0-2, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Indianapolis (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional
Minnesota (1-1, Advanced to NFC Championship)
New England (1-1, Advanced to Super Bowl LII)
New Orleans (0-2, Advanced to Divisional)
New England (1-1, Won Super Bowl LIII)
New Orleans (1-1, Advanced to NFC Championship)
Philadelphia (1-1, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Seattle (0-2, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)

LEADING OFF: Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut against Detroit on Kickoff Weekend.

With 300 passing yards on Sunday at Baltimore, Murray can join Cam Newton (2011) as the only players to pass for at least 300 yards in each of their first two career games in NFL history.

If Murray repeats his Week 1 performance by passing for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, he would become the first player in league history to pass for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in each of their first two career games.

JACK & DAK IN THE BOX: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for 324 yards and five touchdowns in Week 1, while Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns. They became the first players to record a 158.3 passer rating – the highest-attainable mark – in a season opener (min. 20 attempts) in NFL history. Jackson, at 22 years, 244 days-old, became the youngest player in NFL history with a perfect passer rating (min. 20 attempts).

If Jackson or Prescott pass for at least four touchdowns on Sunday, they would join Ryran Fitzpatrick (2018), Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Drew Bledsoe (1997) as the only players in NFL history to pass for at least four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games of a season.

The players to throw at least four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – SEASON; TEAM (GAME 1 PASSING TDs/GAME 2 PASSING TDs)

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 2018; Tampa Bay (4/4)
Patrick Mahomes – 2018; Kansas City (4/6)
Drew Bledsoe – 1997; New England (4/4)
Lamar Jackson – 2019; Baltimore (5/???)
Dak Prescott – 2019; Dallas (4/???)

Additionally, dating back to Week 17 of 2018, Prescott has recorded at least 350 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in consecutive games. Prescott can become the first player to pass for at least 350 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in three consecutive games in NFL history.​​

Week 2 features two matchups between Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks as Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, faces off with Arizona’s Kyler, the 2018 Heisman winner, while Thursday night’s matchup featured Tampa Bay’s Jzmdix Winston (2013) and Carolina’s Cam Newton (2010). This marks the first time in which two games feature Heisman-winning starting quarterbacks in the same week in NFL history.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS: In Week 1, four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards – selected in the second round, 51st overall, out of Mississippi), Baltimore wide receiver MARQUISE BROWN (147 – selected in the first round, 25th overall, out of Oklahoma), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson (131 – selected in the first round, 8th overall, out of Iowa) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125 – selected in the third round, 76th overall, out of Ohio State) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts. It marked the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history.

With at least 100 receiving yards in Week 2, they would join WILL Will Fuller (2016), DeSean Jackson (2008) and Don Looney (1940) as the only players in NFL history to record at least 100 receiving yards in each of their first two career games.

The players to record at least 100 receiving yards in each of their first two career games:

PLAYER – SEASON (TEAM, GAME 1 REC. YARDS/GAME 2 REC. YARDS)
Will Fuller – 2016 (Houston, 107/104)
DeSean Jackson – 2008 (Philadelphia, 106/110)

Don Looney – 1940 (Philadelphia, 115/129)
A.J. Brown – 2019 (Tennessee, 100/???)
Marquise Brown – 2019 (Baltimore, 147/???)
T.J. Hockenson – 2019 (Detroit, 131/???)
Terry McLaurin – 2019 (Washington, 125/???)

Additionally, with two touchdown receptions on Sunday vs. Arizona, Marquise Brown can become the first player in NFL history to record at least two touchdown receptions in each of his first two career games.

SCHUSTER & LADDERS: Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has 2,421 career receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns in 31 career games.

Smith-Schuster, who will be 22 years and 297 days old on Sunday vs. Seattle, needs 79 receiving yards to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (22 years, 310 days) as the youngest player in NFL history to reach 2,500 career receiving yards. ​

The youngest players to reach 2,500 career receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (AGE)
Randy Moss (HOF), Minnesota (22 years, 310 days)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (23 years, 31 days)
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (23 years, 35 days)
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland (23 years, 39 days)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh (22 years, 297 days*)
*On Sunday

GET YOUR KITTLE CORN READY: San Francisco tight end George Kittle has 1,946 career receiving yards in 32 career games and set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) in a single season in NFL history in 2018.

With 54 receiving yards on Sunday at Cincinnati, Kittle would tie Dave Kocourek (33 games) as the third-fastest tight end to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in NFL history. The only tight ends to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in fewer games o Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Ditka (30 games) and Kellen Winslow Sr. (31 games). ​

The tight ends to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES TO REACH 2,000 REC. YARDS)
Mike Ditka (HOF), Chicago (30)
Kellen Winslow Sr. (HOF), San Diego (31)
Dave Kocourek, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers (33)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (34)
Kellen Winslow Jr., Cleveland (34)
George Kittle, San Francisco (32)* (1,946 yards)
*Has 1,946 receiving yards in 32 career games

Week two got underway in Charlotte Thursday night as Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston edged out Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in a NFC South matchup featuring two former Heisman winners in a contest that was delayed by bad weather. The week comes to an end in upstate New Jersey as the New York Jets hosts Cleveland in primetime at 8 p,m. on ESPN. As for last week, 7-9 was not all that great but it was better than nothing. An NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint and as Chris Berman says “That’s why they play the games!” With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week two.

Philadelphia (1-0) at ATLANTA (0-1), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Cheese steak meets chicken and waffles as Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Big Peach to face off against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. While the Eagles come off a win at home against Washington last Sunday, the Falcons look to even their record after a loss on the road to Minnesota in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Philadelphia erased a 20-7 deficit at the half last Sunday against NFC East rival Washington and proceeded to outscore the Redskins 25-7 to come away 32-27 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz threw for 313 yards and no interceptions, while the Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28, with Case Keenum throwing for 380 yards (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked once without an interception). Philadelphia went 11 of 17 on third down tries (the Eagles were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and they would ruled the clock and keep the ball for 34:27, while the Redskins kept the ball for 25:33, going 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Falcons found themselves being shut out for three quarters at Minnesota in the season opener for both clubs, struggling and leaving the Twin Cities with the 28-12 loss. Atlanta trailed 21-0 at the break and could never really get on track until the final 15 minutes of play when Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones each TD passes from Ryan. Minnesota ran roughshod on Atlanta, outrushing the Falcons 172-73 (Minnesota’s Delvin Cook led all rushers with 111 yards and a rushing TD), while Ryan threw for 304 yards with the two TDs but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 98 yards with a TD toss to Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked once but did not throw an interception). While Atlanta was 2 for 8 on third down at US Bank Stadium, they struck gold on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:13, while the Vikings held the ball for 29:47, going 5 for 10 on third down tries.

Philadelphia leads the series 17-13-1, the Eagles have outscored Atlanta 670-574 and have come away with wins in the last two regular season meetings, including an 18-12 win last year in the City of Brotherly Love (Atlanta’s last win in the series came in the Big Peach by a final of 26-24 in the old Georgia Dome). The two clubs didn’t wait around long to meet as they faced off in the season opener on a Thursday night. Atlanta led 6-3 at the break before the Eagles, fresh off a Super Bowl victory over New England, would go on to outscore the Falcons 15-6 in the final 30 minutes of play, taking the lead for good with an 11-yard run by Joseph Ajayi and a two-point conversion by Ajayi with 2:19 left in regulation. Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman gave the Falcons the lead temporarily with 9:48 left in the contest before Ajayi scored his second TD of the night, sending Eagles fans home happy after Philadelphia held off a late Atlanta rally in the final seconds of the contest.

Philadelphia outrushed Atlanta 113-74 and Nick Foles, not Wentz, threw for 117 yards, while Ryan threw for 251 yards (Ryan was sacked four times, Foles was sacked twice, both threw an interception). Atlanta on third down tries went 4 of 15 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:50, while the Eagles ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 32:10, while going 50 percent on third down at 8 for 16.

In the week one meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were favored by 1 point and the over/under was a whopping 45. Philadelphia covered, winning by 6 but neither team covered the over/under, as the two clubs combined to score 30 points. In the Sunday night contest in the Deep South, Philadelphia’s a 1-point favorite again but this time the over/under’s 51. Aw, what the heck… let’s make this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

Philadelphia looks to go 2-0. Atlanta looks to even their record and get revenge at home for the loss to the Eagles last year. Revenge is a dish best served cold, the saying goes and the Falcons will be feasting. Atlanta covers the 1 in the Big Peach and comes away with the Sunday night win.

Arizona (0-0-1) at Baltimore (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of young singal callers meet in Charm City as the Baltimore Ravens host the Arizona Cardinals in an early afternoon (early morning Phoenix time) kick off with number one round pick Kyler Murray facing off against Lamar Jackson at M&T Bank Stadium.

Arizona trailed Detroit 17-3 at the half (the two played a scoreless first quarter), then rallied to even things up with 43 seconds left when Murray and all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches for 113 yards) connected on a 4-yard TD toss, then went for two and found success as Murray and WR Christian Kirk connected on the two-point try to tie things up at 24-24. After the Cardinals held off a late Detroit rally that would have given the Lions the win in regulation, the two clubs went to overtime and Arizona won the toss, making their way down the field. The Desert Angry Birds would get themselves as close as Detroit’s 10-yard line, coming no closer as Zane Gonzalez connected on a 28-yard field goal in the overtime. Detroit and Matthew Stafford would get the ball back in the extra period and they would make their way down the field themselves, with Arizona stopping them at their 15-yard, forcing the Lions to use Matt Prater’s leg to re-tie the contest at 27-27. Arizona got the ball back, moving as far as the Lions’ 46-yard before they had to punt, giving Detroit the ball back with 59 seconds left. Detroit’s drive sputtered in their final chance to reclaim the lead and their drive got them only to their 10-yard line, ending the contest.

Detroit barely outrushed Arizona 116-112 and Murray threw for 308 yards with five sacks and an interception, while Stafford threw for 385 yards and three sacks (Murray threw a pair of TDs, including the TD that put the Desert Angry Birds to within two, while Stafford threw three TDs, one to WR Danny Amendola). The two clubs were a combined 15 for 40 on third down tries in the desert (Arizona was 9 of 22, Detroit was 6 of 18; the Lions were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 39:23 to Arizona’s 30:37.

Baltimore manhandled Miami in the Sunshine State last Sunday, taking the Dolphins to task and the woodshed by a 59-10 final.
The Ravens led 42-10 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium and never looked back in the lopsided season opener and would score an additional 17 second-half points unchallenged. While rushing for 265 yards (Mark Ingram led the way with 107 yards and a pair of TDs), the Ravens held Miami to a dismal 21 yards. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs, connecting with fellow rookie WR Marquise Brown on two of those tosses, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 185 yards and a TD with a pair of sacks and an interception. Baltimore was 7 for 11 on third down (the Ravens were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and held on to the pigskin for 40:07, while Miami was 3 for 10 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 19:53.

The Ravens hold a 4-2 lead in the series and Baltimore has outscored the Desert Angry Birds 126-117. Their last meeting was in 2015 in the desert and the Cardinals broke a three-game losing streak against Baltimore, taking a 26-18 win at State Farm Stadium. Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City, as they would take a 30-27 win in 2011. Baltimore’s favored by 13 1/2 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. The 46 1/2 makes sense… the 13 1/2 has us scratching our heads. Baltimore is good but they’re not 13 1/2 good. Still, the Ravens prevail in Charm City and takes the win at home.

San Francisco (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers travel to the shores of the Ohio River as they face off against Andy Dalton and the Cinicnnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Both teams were on the road in their season openers, with San Francisco winning in the Sunshine State, while Cincinnati saw Seattle rally in the Pacific Northwest to fall by a point.

The 49ers trailed Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay 7-6 at the intermission at Raymond James Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Bucs 25-10 in the final 30 minutes of play to come away 31-17 in the Sunshine State. Tampa Bay did outrush San Francisco 121-98 but turned the ball over four times in the loss. Winston threw for 121 yards and a TD but was picked off three times and sacked once, while Garoppolo threw for 166 yards with a TD and an interception. Tampa Bay was 5 of 11 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:56, while the 49ers ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:04, while going 5 for 13 on third down conversions.

Cincinnati let a 17-14 halftime lead get away from them in Seattle as the Seahawks and Russell Wilson stormed back to take a 21-20 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Wilson, despite being sacked four times, threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 418 yards in the Pacific Northwest (Dalton also threw a pair of TDs; Dalton was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times, neither man threw an interception). Neither club came close to the 100-yard rushing barrier but Seattle did outrush the Bengals 72-34 and Seattle, who forced three Bengals fumbles, went 4 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:10. Cincinnati actually ruled the clock in the loss, keeping the pigskin for 35:50 and went 6 of 15 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The 49ers hold a 9-4 lead in the series and San Francisco has outscored Cincinnati 286-255. Their last meeting took place in 2015 in San Francisco at old Candlestick Park by a final of 24-14, while the 49ers’ last win in the series came in Cincinnati by a 13-8 tally in 2011. Cincinnati’s favored by a point and the over/under’s 44 1/2. These two teams struggled to keep their heads above water last year and while they’re not exactly world beaters yet, this one might be worth your time. Bengals cover the 1 along the shores of the Ohio River and takes the win at home.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit (0-0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Phililp Rivers vs. Matthew Stafford. A pair of future Hall of Fame qbs meet in the Motor City for an afternoon (early morning in Los Angeles) contest at Ford Field. Both teams played overtime contests last Sunday in their openers with the Chargers coming away winners at home, while the Lions fought for a tie in the desert.

Rivers and the Bolts led Indianapolis 17-6 at the intermisson at Dignity Health Sports Park, only to watch Jacoby Brissett and WR T.Y. Hilton connect on a 19-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in regulation before RB Austin Ekeler scored on a 7-yard run with 5:01 left in the extra period to take a 30-24 win at home. Indianapolis outrushed the Chargers 203-125 and Colts RB Marlon Mack led all rushers with 174 yards and a TD of his own, while Ekeler ran for 58 yards and the OT game-winner. Rivers threw for 333 yards and three TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 190 yards and a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks. The Chargers went 7 of 11 on third down tries on the West Coast and kept the ball for 32:50 (including the overtime), while the Colts kept the ball for 32:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Detroit led Arizona 17-3 at the half (the two played a scoreless first quarter), then watched the Cardinals rally to take a 27-27 overtime tie in the desert. Arizona would even things up with 43 seconds left when rookie QB Kyler Murray and all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches for 113 yards) connected on a 4-yard TD toss, then went for two and found success as Murray and WR Christian Kirk connected on the two-point try to tie things up at 24-24. After the Cardinals held off a late Detroit rally that would have given the Lions the win in regulation, the two clubs went to overtime and Arizona won the toss, making their way down the field. The Desert Angry Birds would get themselves as close as Detroit’s 10-yard line, coming no closer as Zane Gonzalez connected on a 28-yard field goal in the overtime. Detroit and Matthew Stafford would get the ball back in the extra period and they would make their way down the field themselves, with Arizona stopping them at their 15-yard, forcing the Lions to use Matt Prater’s leg to re-tie the contest at 27-27. Arizona got the ball back, moving as far as the Lions’ 46-yard before they had to punt, giving Detroit the ball back with 59 seconds left. Detroit’s drive sputtered in their final chance to reclaim the lead and their drive got them only to their 10-yard line, ending the contest.

Detroit barely outrushed Arizona 116-112 and Murray threw for 308 yards with five sacks and an interception, while Stafford threw for 385 yards and three sacks (Murray threw a pair of TDs, including the TD that put the Desert Angry Birds to within two, while Stafford threw three TDs, one to WR Danny Amendola). The two clubs were a combined 15 for 40 on third down tries in the desert (Arizona was 9 of 22, Detroit was 6 of 18; the Lions were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 39:23 to Arizona’s 30:37.

Including games that took place in San Diego, the Chargers lead the series 7-4 but the Lions have outscored the Bolts 250-244. Their last meeting? 2015 in San Diego and the Chargers and Rivers came away with the 33-28 win, while Detroit’s last win in the series came in the Motor City by a final of 38-10 in 2011. The Chargers find themselves being favored by 2 1/2 on the road and the over/under is 47 1/2. These teams would like nothing more than to not play another overtime game. Chargers cover the 2 1/2 and win in the Motor City.

Minnesota (1-0) at Green Bay (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC North (or NFC Norris, as Chris Berman calls it) meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as Green Bay hosts the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau. Both teams took wins in their openers last week.

Minnesota held Atlanta scoreless for three quarters at Minnesota in the season opener for both clubs, coming away 28-12 winners in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota led 21-0 at the break and Atlanta could never really get on track until the final 15 minutes of play when Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones each TD passes from Matt Ryan. Minnesota ran roughshod on Atlanta, outrushing the Falcons 172-73 (Minnesota’s Delvin Cook led all rushers with 111 yards and a rushing TD), while Ryan threw for 304 yards with the two TDs but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 98 yards with a TD toss to Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked once but did not throw an interception). While Atlanta was 2 for 8 on third down at US Bank Stadium, they struck gold on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:13, while the Vikings held the ball for 29:47, going 5 for 10 on third down tries.

Green Bay won their season opener last Thursday night against Chicago at Soldier Field. After trailing 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Packers took a 7-3 lead with them to the locker room, added a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, then held off a late Chicago rally to take a 10-3 win in the Windy City. The lone TD in the contest came when Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on an 8-yard TD toss early in the second quarter after Chicago’s Eddy Pineiro opened the scoring in the contest with a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The contest was nothing to write home about as far as rushing yardage was concerned and neither team breached the 50-yard mark, let alone the 100-yard mark. Green Bay barely outrushed Chicago 47-46 and Rodgers threw for 203 yards with the only TD in the contest, while Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards with an interception (both men were sacked five times). Green Bay was a dismal 2 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 31:03, while Chicago would keep the ball for 28:57, going 3 of 15 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Green Bay leads the series 59-53-3 and the Packers have outscored the Purple People Eaters 2,505-2,242. The Vikings have won three of the last four meetings in the series, tying in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst and taking a win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in their last two contests. Green Bay’s last win over the Vikings? 2106 on the Frozen Tundra by a final of 38-25.

Meeting number one… Lambeau Field in week two. Rodgers and Green Bay led 20-7 after three quarters of play (the Packers led 17-7 at the intermission), only to watch the Vikings outscore them in the fourth quarter 22-9 to come away with the 29-29 overtime tie. Mason Crosby kicked five field goals for the Packers, only to watch the Vikings tie things up in regulation with 31 seconds left when Cousins and Thielen connected on a 22-yard TD toss to pull themselve to within two, then tied things up when Cousins and Stefan Diggs connected on a two-point conversion. The two clubs then proceeded to play scoreless football in the overtime. Green Bay outrushed Minnesota 98-68, Rodgers would throw for 281 yards and a TD (Rodgers was sacked four times), while Cousins threw for 425 yards and four TDs (he was sacked twice and threw an interception). Minnesota was 7 of 14 on third down conversions in upstate Wisconsin and kept the ball for 31:52, while Green Bay kept the pigskin for 38:08 and went 4 for 13 on third down.

First meeting in the books, right?

Second meeting… Minneapolis and US Bank Stadium in week 12 and while the second meeting was close, the Vikings prevailed at home by a final of 24-17. Green Bay and Minnesota played to a 17-17 tie at the half, then floored the gas in the second half, outscoring Green Bay 10-3 in the final 30 minutes to take the win. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 91-82 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Rodgers threw for 198 yards and a TD (four sacks), while Cousins threw for 342 yards and three TDs (connecting with Thielen and Diggs on two of the tosses with a pair of sacks; neither man threw an interception). Minnesota was 7 of 14 on third down conversions, while the Packers struggled, going 2 of 10 (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down tries) and Minnesota ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:37 to Green Bay’s 25:23.

In the week two contest at Lambeau, Green Bay was favored by 2 but neither team covered the spread because of the tie but the 58 points that were scored were more than enough to cover the 46 over/under. In the second meeting in week 12 in the Twin Cities, the Vikings covered the 3 1/2 point spread, winning by 7 but came up short of the 48 over/under by 7. This time around, the Packers are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 44 1/2. The winner will have first place all to themselves in the NFC North. Green Bay prevails in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst, covering the 2 1/2 at Lambeau.

Jacksonville (0-1) at Houston (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of winless AFC South rivals meet in the Lone Star State as J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans host Jacksonville at NRG Stadium. Both clubs look to break into the win column after losses in their season openers.

The Jaguars lost at home 40-26 to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field last Sunday. The Chiefs led 23-13 at the break, then proceeded to floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of play to take the win in the Sunshine State. Kansas City outrushed Jacksonville 113-81, with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 81 yards. Mahomes threw for 378 yards with three TD tosses to WR Sammy Irvin without a sack or interception, while Jaguar rookie QB Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception. Both Kansas City and Jacksonville went 5 for 10 on third down conversions and the Chiefs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15 to Jacksonville’s 28:45.

Houston looks to right its ship at home after they let a 14-3 halftime lead at New Orleans get away from them as the Saints opened their 2019 campaign with a 30-28 come-from-behind last-second win over the Texans Monday night in the Big Easy. After a scoreless first quarter, the Texans took the 11-point lead at the intermission thanks to a pair of TDs from DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Watson. The Saints would go on to outscore Houston 27-14 in the last 30 minutes of action, with the game winner coming from K Wil Lutz as time expired. New Orelans set up the game winning drive, getting ball back with 37 seconds left and used a 6-play, 35-yard drive that used all of the 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Houston outrushed New Orleans 180-148 and Waston threw for 268 yards and three TDs with six sacks and an interception, while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards with a sack and an interception. Both teams did well on third down conversions in the Monday night contest (Houston was 7 of 13, the Texans were 1 of 1 on fourth down; New Orleans was 7 of 11) and New Orleans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:13, while the Texans held on to the pigskin for 29:47.

The Texans lead the series 21-13, have outscored the Jaguars 747-678 and swept last year’s two-game series (Jacksonville’s last win over Houston came in 2017 in the Sunshine State by a final of 45-7).

Meeting number one… Jacksonville in week seven and the Texans held the Jaguars to a third-quarter TD pass from Cody Keesler to T.Y. Hilton to take a 20-7 win at TIAA Bank Field. Houston led 13-0 at the intermission and was in control throughout the contest. Houston outrushed Jacksonville 141-70 with Texans RB Lamar Miller leading all rushers with 100 yards and a TD. Watson threw for 139 yards and a TD and a sack but did not throw an interception, while Keesler threw for 156 yards with the lone TD toss (Keesler was sacked four times and picked off once). Houston, forcing three Jacksonville turnovers in the Sunshine State, went 8 of 16 on third down and kept the ball for 29:35, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 30:25, going 9 of 19 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The Texans completed the sweep in the second meeting, which took place in the Lone Star State in week 17. Houston had no problem with the Jaguars, holding Jacksonville to a Kai Forbath field goal in the first quarter and scored their 20 points unchallenged to take a 20-3 win in the season finale for both clubs. Watson and Miller accounted for both Texans TDs in the win that prepared them for the post-season. Houston held Jacksonville to 30 yards rushing and sacked Blake Bortles (107 yards) three times and picked him off once, while Watson threw for 234 yards, although he was sacked six times. The Texans were 6 of 17 on third down but were perfect on fourth down in their only try, keeping the ball for 35:07, while Jacksonville kept it for 24:53, going 3 of 13 on third down tries.

Jacksonville was favored by 4 1/2 points in the week seven contest in the Sunshine State and Houston covered, winning by 13. Neither club covered the 42 1/2 over/under, as both teams combined for 27 points. In the season finale in the Lone Star State, the Texans easily covered the 7-point spread, winning by 17 but as was the case in the first meeting, neither club covered the pver/under of 40 1/2, tallying only 23 points. Houston’s favored by 8 1/2 in the Lone Star State and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Houston takes this one at home but expect the Jaguars to make things closer than 8 1/2.

New England (1-0) at Miami (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. They meet again. A pair of AFC East rivals square off in Miami as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphis in Miami Shores.

The defending Super Bowl champs raised their sixth banner last Sunday night in Foxboro, then proceeeded to hold Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger (276 yards, interception, sack) to a Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter as they manhandled the Steelers 33-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots led 20-0 at the break, then outscored their guests from the Steel City 13-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. New England rushed for 99 yards in the lopsided win, holding the Steelers to 32 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 341 yards and three TDs without an interception (he was sacked once). New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions and held the ball for 32:33, while the Dolphins went 27:27 in possession time, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Miami in the Sunshine State last Sunday, found themselves being taken to task and the woodshed by a 59-10 final at home last Sunday against Baltimore. The Dolphins trailed 42-10 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium and never looked back in the lopsided season opener and would score an additional 17 second-half points unchallenged. While rushing for 265 yards (Mark Ingram led the way with 107 yards and a pair of TDs), the Ravens held Miami to a dismal 21 yards. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs, connecting with fellow rookie WR Marquise Brown on two of those tosses, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 185 yards and a TD with a pair of sacks and an interception. Baltimore was 7 for 11 on third down (the Ravens were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and held on to the pigskin for 40:07, while Miami was 3 for 10 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 19:53.

Miami leads the series 54-50 and including games that were played in Boston’s Fenway Park and the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins have outscored New England 2,268-2,239. The two clubs split last season’s contests, with each team taking wins at home.

Meeting number one? Foxboro. Week four. Miami found themselves held to a fourth-quarter TD as the Patriots took care of Miami 38-7. Leading 24-0 at the half and 31-0 after three quarters, Brady and the Pats burned Miami for 274 yards and three TDs, despite throwing two interceptions (Ryan Tannehill threw for 100 yards with a sack and interception for Miami), while the Pats ran for 175 yards (New England’s Sony Michel led all rushers with 112 yards and a TD), holding Miami to 56 yards on the ground. New England went 10 of 15 on third down conversions in Foxboro and held on to the ball for 36:22, while the Dolphins were 3 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:38.

Round two… Miami in week 14 and the Dolphins would get some last-second revenge on Brady (358 yards, three TDs, two sacks) in the Sunshine State, erasing a 27-21 deficit at the intermission to come away 34-33 winners at Hard Rock Stadium. New England led by 6 at the break, then watched Miami chip away at the lead as the Dolphins used a 1-play, 69-yard drive that used all of the 16 seconds left in the contest with no time outs to come away with the win and send their fans home happy, thanks to a hook-and-ladder pass from Ryan Tannehill (265 yards, three TDs, 4 sacks) to DeVante Parker, who pitcher the ball to Kenyon Drake, who took it 52 yards into the end zone for the game winner. Miami outrushed New England 189-77 with Frank Gore leading the way with 92 yards on the ground. New England was 9 of 16 on third down tries and held the ball for 35:14, while Miami kept the pigskin for 24:46, including the final 16 seconds of the contest, going 1 of 7 on third down.

In the week four contest in Foxboro, New England easily covered the 7-point spread, winning by 31 but both clubs missed the 47 1/2 over/under, scoring 45 points. In the rematch in the Sunshine State, New England was favored again, this time by 8 1/2 but Miami won by a single point. Both clubs did cover the 47 1/2 over/under with 67 points. The odds makers in Vegas have made New England a 19-point road favorite with a 47 1/2 over/under. The 47 1/2 is reasonable. 19 points? Seriously? The Dolphins were a bad team last week but they’re not 19 points bad. History does have a strange way of repeating itself and while Miami’s not going to cover the 19, they will take the win in the Sunshine State.

Buffalo (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The Bills spend another week in upstate New Jersey as they square off against Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants at Met Life Stadium. The Bills come off a huge win over the Jets in their season opener, while the Giants return home from a loss against NFC East foe Dallas.

Buffalo erased a 16-3 deficit after three quarters of play (they trailed 6-0 at the half) and scored 14 fourth quarter points against Sam Darnold (175 yards, TD, four sacks) and the New York Jets unchallenged to escape Met Life Stadium with a 17-16 win. Bills QB Josh Allen (254 yards) used his arm and legs in the final 15 minutes of action, rushing for a 1-yard score early in the fourth and then connecting with WR Josh Brown with three minutes left in regulation to take the win. Buffalo outrushed the Jets 128-68, with Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary leading all rushers with 70. Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while the Jets were 32:01 in time of possession, going 7 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Manning (306 yards, sack) and TE Evan Engram gave the Giants the early lead against Dallas and Dak Prescott (405 yards, four TDs) only to see that lead get away from them as the Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half unchallenged, losing on the road 35-17. Dallas took that 21-7 lead with them to the locker room and kept the Giants in check in the second half. New York did outrush Dallas 151-75 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 120 yards for the Giants at AT&T Stadium. The Giants were 2 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:42, while Dallas ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:18, while going 6 of 10 on third down.

The series is all even at 6-6 and the Bills have outscored the Giants 220-219. However… Big Blue has won the last three meetings, including a 24-10 in 2015 in upstate New York, while Buffalo’s last win came in 2003 in the Meadowlands by a final of 24-7. The Bills are favored by 2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Giants avenge their Met Life Stadium neighors and pull the upset over the Bills, covering the 2.

Seattle (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger meet in an early Sunday afternoon contest at Heinz Field. Seattle enters the contest win a win under their belts, while the Steelers look to resotre some order in the AFC.

Seattle erased a 17-14 halftime deficit in Seattle against the Bengals as the Seahawks and Wilson stormed back to take a 21-20 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Wilson, despite being sacked four times, threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 418 yards in the Pacific Northwest (Dalton also threw a pair of TDs; Dalton was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times, neither man threw an interception). Neither club came close to the 100-yard rushing barrier but Seattle did outrush the Bengals 72-34 and Seattle, who forced three Bengals fumbles, went 4 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:10. Cincinnati actually ruled the clock in the loss, keeping the pigskin for 35:50 and went 6 of 15 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Roethlisberger (276 yards, interception, sack) and the Steelers watched New England raise their Super Bowl sixth banner last Sunday night in Foxboro, then were held to a Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter as they were manhandled 33-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots led 20-0 at the break, then outscored their guests from the Steel City 13-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. New England rushed for 99 yards in the lopsided win, holding the Steelers to 32 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 341 yards and three TDs without an interception (he was sacked once). New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions and held the ball for 32:33, while the Dolphins went 27:27 in possession time, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Seattle leads the series 9-8 and the Seahawks have outscored Pittsburgh 318-272. Their last meeting was 2015 in the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks held off Pittsburgh 39-30, while Pittsburgh’s last win came in the Steel City in 2011, as they shut out the Seahawks 24-0. Pittsburgh’s favored by 4 and the over/under is 46 1/2. Seattle will make it close but the Steelers get themselves in the win column at home and could cover the 4.

Indianapolis (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts look for their first win of the 2019 campaign as they travel to Music City to face off against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in an early AFC South matchup.

Brissett and Indianapolis trailed Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers 17-6 at the intermisson at Dignity Health Sports Park, then connected with WR T.Y. Hilton connect on a 19-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in regulation before Chargers RB Austin Ekeler scored on a 7-yard run with 5:01 left in the extra period to fall to Philip Rivers and the Chargers 30-24. Indianapolis outrushed the Chargers 203-125 and Colts RB Marlon Mack led all rushers with 174 yards and a TD of his own, while Ekeler ran for 58 yards and the OT game-winner. Rivers threw for 333 yards and three TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Brissett threw for 190 yards and a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks. The Chargers went 7 of 11 on third down tries on the West Coast and kept the ball for 32:50 (including the overtime), while the Colts kept the ball for 32:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Titans led Cleveland and Baker Mayfield 12-6 at the half at First Energy Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Browns 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming away 43-13 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. The Titans outrushed the Browns 123-102 and made life less than pleasant for Mayfield (285 yards), sacking him five times (once for a safety) and picking him off three times, while Mariota had his way with Cleveland, throwing for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, despite being sacked four times. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Tennessee was 2 of 10, the Browns were 1 of 10; Cleveland was 0 for 2 on fourth down) but the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:42 to Tennessee’s 29:18.

Including games that were played in Baltimore and Houston when the Titans were known as the Oilers, the Colts lead the series 33-15 and have outscored Tennessee 1,252-940. Indy swept the series last year, taking both wins in Nashville and Indianapolis (Tennessee’s last win in the series came in 2017, when they left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 20-16 win).

The first meeting was week 11 in the Hoosier State and the Colts got three TDs from Andrew Luck and came away with a 38-10 win in the Hoosier State. Leading 24-3 at the half, Indianapolis went on to outpace the Titans 14-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Colts outrushed Tennessee 102-87 and Luck threw for 297 yards and the three TDs without a sack or interception, while Mariota threw for 85 yards before being pulled after he was sacked four times and threw an interception. Indy went 5 of 10 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:16, while the Titans were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 28:44.

The Colts made it a clean sweep in their second meeting in week 17 in what would be Luck’s final game in an NFL uniform, as the Colts were 33-17 winners at Nissan Stadium. Leading 17-10 at the half, Indianapolis floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring Tennessee 16-7. Marlon Mack led all rushers with 119 yards and a TD as the Colts outrushed Tennessee 158-93 (Tennessee’s Derek Henry accounted for all of the Titans’ rushing yardage) and Luck threw for 285 yards and three TDs, despite being sacked once and picked off once, while Blaine Gabbert threw for 165 yards with a TD and a pair of picks. The Colts were 5 of 13 on third down (they did quite well on fourth down, going 1 of 1) and kept the ball for 40:13, while the Titans were 1 of 9 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 19:47.

In the week 11 contest at Lucas Oil, the Colts were favored by 2 1/2 and covered the spread, winning by 28 and both teams matched the 48 over/under. The Colts were favored by 3 in the Music City and covered, winning by 16 and both teams took care of the 43 1/2 over/under with 50 points. Tennessee’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Both of those numbers are reasonable. Titans cover the 3 in the Music City and takes the win at home.

Dallas (1-0) at Washington (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. Forget the records. These two teams DON’T like each other. Football’s answer to the Capulets vs. the Montagues, dogs vs. cats, Crips vs. Bloods, Hatfields vs. McCoys. See where we’re going with this? NFC East rivals Dallas and Washington meet in Landover in the first of their two meetings. Both clubs played divisional rivals in their season openers, with Dallas coming away with a win at home, while the Redskins blew a lead on the road and took a loss.

Dallas watched Eli Manning (306 yards, sack) and TE Evan Engram take the early lead against Dallas and Dak Prescott (405 yards, four TDs) only to see that lead get away from them as the Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half unchallenged, losing on the road 35-17. Dallas took that 21-7 lead with them to the locker room and kept the Giants in check in the second half. New York did outrush Dallas 151-75 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 120 yards for the Giants at AT&T Stadium. The Giants were 2 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:42, while Dallas ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:18, while going 6 of 10 on third down.

Washington watched a 20-7 lead at the half last Sunday against NFC East rival Philadelphia get away from them as the Eagles proceeded to outscore the Redskins 25-7 to come away 32-27 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz threw for 313 yards and no interceptions, while the Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28, with Case Keenum throwing for 380 yards (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked once without an interception). Philadelphia went 11 of 17 on third down tries (the Eagles were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and they would ruled the clock and keep the ball for 34:27, while the Redskins kept the ball for 25:33, going 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas holds a 71-43-2 lead in the series, which includes games that were played in the Cotton Bowl and RFK Stadium and they have outscored Washington 2,709-2,238. The two clubs split their contests last year, each taking wins at home.

Their first meeting was in Landover in week seven and the Redskins held off a late Dallas rally to come away with the 20-17 win at FedEx Field. Washington and Dallas entered the intermission tied at 7-7 and the Redskins would take a 10-7 lead with them to the start of the fourth quarter, where both teams would play even football at that point. Prescott (273 yards, TD, four sacks) would pull the Cowboys to within three with 97 seconds left to make the contest a 3-point affair. Dallas then tried the onside kick and failed, allowing Washington to get the ball back and run out the clock. Washington outrushed Dallas 130-73, with Adrian Peterson leading the way with 99 yards, while Alex Smith threw for 178 yards and a TD without an interception (he was sacked once, Prescott was sacked four times). Washington went 3 of 12 on third down (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:55, while the Cowboys, who held the ball for 29:05, went 5 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas would get their revenge at AT&T Stadium in week 12 and just like the first contest, things were close but Prescott and the Cowboys prevailed by a final of 31-23. Dallas led 10-7 at the half and took a 24-13 lead with them to the fourth quarter before Washington would make things closer than Dallas would like as Dustin Hopkins made the contest an eight-point affair with 73 seconds left but Washington would get no closer. Dallas outrushed Washington 146-80 and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 121 yards ahd a TD, while Prescott threw for 289 yards. For Washington, this time it was Colt McCoy under center, as he threw for 268 yards (McCoy was sacked three times with three interception, Prescott was sacked four times; each QB threw two TDs). In the rematch in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys were 6 of 14 on third down (Dallas was 0 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 33:23, while Washington held on to the football for 26:37, while going 4 of 11 on third down.

Washington was favored by 1 in the week seven contest and covered the spread, winning by 3. The 41 1/2 over/under was untouched as both clubs combined for 37 points. In the week 12 contest, the odds makers liked Dallas as a 7 1/2-point favorite and they barely covered, winning by 8. This time, both teams took care of the over/under (which was 41) by combining for 54 points. The spread? Dallas is favored by 5. The over/under? 46 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For Dallas, they want to be 2-0 in the NFC East. For Washington, they want to restore some order. Will Redskins fans be singing “Hail to the Redskins” or “Hell, it’s the Redskins?” Hail sounds better. Washington pulls off the upset at Landover and covers the 5.

Kansas City (1-0) at Oakland (1-0), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. As far as rivalries go, these two teams DO NOT like each other. They’re not Facebook friends, they don’t follow each other on Twitter. They meet again. Kansas City and Oakland, two former AFL teams meet on the East side of San Francisco Bay at the Oakland Coliseum. Both teams are coming off wins in their season openers last week.

Mahomes and the Chiefs took Jacksonville to task last Sunday in the Sunshine State and the Chiefs prevailed 40-26 at TIAA Bank Field last Sunday. Leading from start to finish, Kansas City led 23-13 at the break, then proceeded to floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of play to take the win in the Sunshine State. The Chiefs outrushed Jacksonville 113-81, with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 81 yards. Mahomes threw for 378 yards with three TD tosses to WR Sammy Irvin without a sack or interception, while Jaguar rookie QB Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception. Both Kansas City and Jacksonville went 5 for 10 on third down conversions and the Chiefs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15 to Jacksonville’s 28:45.

Oakland held off a late Denver rally last Monday night at home to take a 24-16 decision at Oakland Monday night. The Silver and Black led 14-0 at the half before Denver made their first dent on the scoreboard in the third when K Brian McManus kicked a pair of 26-yard field goals in the frame. Denver would pull themselves to within eight with 2:15 when Broncos QB Joe Flacco (269 yards, three sacks) and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected on a 1-yard toss. The Broncos then tried and failed on the onside kick attempt, giving Oakland the ball back and allowing them to run out the clock. Oakland outrushed Denver 98-95 and Flacco threw for 268 yards with three sacks, while Derek Carr threw for 259 yards with a TD and no sacks (both Flacco and Carr did not throw an interception).

Including the games that were played in Dallas (when the Chiefs were known as the Texans), at Swope Field and in Los Angeles, the Chiefs lead the series 63-52-2, they have outscored the Raiders 2,496-2,253 and they have won the last three meetings, including sweeping the two contests they played last year (Oakland’s last win over the Chiefs came in 2017 in Oakland, when they were 31-30 winners).

Round one… week 13 in Oakland. Kansas City led 19-7 at the half at the Coliseum and held off the Silver and Black, coming away 40-33 winners. Kansas City outrushed Oakland 174-171 (Oakland’s Jalen Richard led all rushers with 95 yards) and Mahomes threw for 295 yards with four TDs (two of them to TE Travis Kelce, who caught 12 passes for 168 yards) and no sacks or interceptions, while Carr threw for 285 yards and three TDs (Carr was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). The Chiefs were 6 of 13 on third down but went 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:14. As for the Raiders? They were 9 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:46.

Kansas City made it a clean sweep of the series in week 17 at Arrowhead, holding the Raiders to a Daniel Carlson field goal late in the first half to take the 35-3 win. Tyreek Hill had a rushing TD and a TD pass from Mahomes (281 yards, two TDs, interception), even though the Raiders did outrush Kansas City 127-99 with Doug Martin leading all rushers with 100 yards in the contest and Carr threw for 185 yards but was sacked three times and picked off twice. Kansas City went 5 of 9 on third down tries in the Show-Me State (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:04, while the Raiders kept the ball for 33:56, while they went 4 for 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

While Kansas City was favored by 15 in the week 13 contest, they would only win by 7 but both clubs covered the 55 1/2 over/under, tallying 73 points. In the season finale in the Show-Me State, the Chiefs were favored by 13 1/2 and they obliged the odds makers, covering the spread with their 32-point win. The 38 combined points between Kansas City and Oakland was no match for the 54 over/under in the contest. The Chiefs are favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 53 1/2. They’ll meet again in week 13 in Kansas City but for now, the Raiders would like to get some revenge on their AFC West rivals. Chiefs fans need not worry. Oakland will make it interesting but the Chiefs will prevail on the road, taking the win and covering the 7 1/2.

Chicago (0-1) at Denver (0-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A pair of 0-1 teams meet in the Rocky Mountains as Chicago makes their way to Denver to take on the Broncos in a late afternoon contest.

Da Bears dropped their home opener last Thursday night against Green Bay at Soldier Field. After leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, Bears fans watched with horror as the Packers took a 7-3 lead with them to the locker room, added a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, then held off a late Chicago rally to take a 10-3 win in the Windy City. The lone TD in the contest came when Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on an 8-yard TD toss early in the second quarter after Chicago’s Eddy Pineiro opened the scoring in the contest with a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The contest was nothing to write home about as far as rushing yardage was concerned and neither team breached the 50-yard mark, let alone the 100-yard mark. Green Bay barely outrushed Chicago 47-46 and Rodgers threw for 203 yards with the only TD in the contest, while Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards with an interception (both men were sacked five times). Green Bay was a dismal 2 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 31:03, while Chicago would keep the ball for 28:57, going 3 of 15 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Denver seeks its first win of the season after they dropped a 24-16 decision at Oakland Monday night. The Broncos trailed 14-0 at the half and made their first dent on the scoreboard in the third when K Brian McManus kicked a pair of 26-yard field goals in the frame. Denver would pull themselves to within eight with 2:15 when Broncos QB Joe Flacco (269 yards, three sacks) and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected on a 1-yard toss. The Broncos then tried and failed on the onside kick attempt, giving Oakland the ball back and allowing them to run out the clock. Oakland outrushed Denver 98-95 and Flacco threw for 268 yards with three sacks, while Derek Carr threw for 259 yards with a TD and no sacks (both Flacco and Carr did not throw an interception).

While the Broncos lead the series 8-7, Chicago has outscored Denver 291-250 in the series. Denver has won the last two meetings, including a 17-15 win in the Windy City in 2015, while Da Bears’ last win in the series also came in Chicago, as they were 37-34 overtime winners in 2007. Chicago’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. We’re not going to blame you for watching that “Bar Rescue” marathon (Jon Taffer blowing his gasket makes the show, ya think?) Chicago recovers from their loss to Green Bay at Soldier Field last week to take the win and covers the 2 1/2.

New Orleans (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and 717. They met twice in the Big Easy and split the two meetings, one in the regular season, one in the post-season. New Orleans travels to the West Coast for a late afternoon contest with the defending NFC champs. Both teams were victors in their season openers last week.

New Orleans erased a 14-3 halftime lead by Houston last Monday night as the Saints opened their 2019 campaign with a 30-28 come-from-behind last-second win over the Texans Monday night in the Big Easy. After a scoreless first quarter, the Texans led by 11-point lead at the intermission thanks to a pair of TDs from DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Watson. The Saints would go on to outscore Houston 27-14 in the last 30 minutes of action, with the game winner coming from K Wil Lutz as time expired. New Orelans set up the game winning drive, getting ball back with 37 seconds left and used a 6-play, 35-yard drive that used all of the 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Houston outrushed New Orleans 180-148 and Waston threw for 268 yards and three TDs with six sacks and an interception, while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards with a sack and an interception. Both teams did well on third down conversions in the Monday night contest (Houston was 7 of 13, the Texans were 1 of 1 on fourth down; New Orleans was 7 of 11) and New Orleans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:13, while the Texans held on to the pigskin for 29:47.

The Rams led Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 13-3 at the intermission after a scoreless first quarter, then held off a late Panthers rally as they would pull themselves to within a field goal with 1:58 left in the contest when Alex Armah scored on a one-yard run. The defending NFC champions outrushed Carolina 166-127, with Christian McCafferey leading the way with 128 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Rams were led by Todd Gurley with 97 yards. Newton threw for 239 yards with three sacks and an interception, while Jarred Goff threw for 186 yards with a TD, sack and interception. Carolina was 5 for 11 on third down tries at Bank of America Stadium and kept the ball for 26:44, while the Rams went 9 of 17 on third down (neither club had a fourth down attempt) and kept the ball for 33:16.

Los Angeles leads the lead series 41-33 (which includes contests that were played at old Tulane Stadium and in St. Louis) and the Rams have outscored New Orleans 1,685-1,552. New Orleans’ last regular season win in the series came last year in the Big Easy by a 45-35 final, while the Rams’ last win came in Los Angeles in 2017 by a final of 26-20.

They met twice during the 2018 season and both meetings took place in the Big Easy. Meeting number one in week nine. The Saints led 35-17 at the half, then went on to hold off the Rams 45-35. Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs, while Goff threw for 391 yards and three TDs (Goff was picked off once, neither man was sacked) for the Rams. New Orleans outrushed the Rams 141-92, with Saints RB Alvina Kamara leading the way with 82 yards and a pair of TDs (Gurley ran for 68 yards with a TD for the Rams. The Rams were 3 of 8 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:19, while the Saints took control of the ball for 33:41 and went 7 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Their second meeting? The NFC Championship game in New Orleans. The Rams trailed New Orleans 13-10 at the break before they would outscore the Saints 13-10 in regulation, then took matters into their hands as they would take advantage of a Brees’ interception in overtime to win the NFC Championship Game 26-23. New Orleans led by as much as 10 early in the third quarter before the Rams would chip away at the lead and tie things up as Lutz and Rams K Greg Zuerlein traded field goals in regulation.

The contest would be remembered not just for the Brees interception in overtime but for a penalty that was never called in regulation as Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman collided on a pass attempt by Brees. No penalty was called on the play, which angered Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. The Saints had to settle for a field goal by Lutz with 1:49 left in regulation. Los Angeles then made their way down the field after the kickoff and used a 9-play, 45-yard drive that would use 1:26 of clock and Zuerlien would tie things up at 23-23. New Orleans got the ball back after that score and knelt it down to send the contest into overtime. The Saints won the toss to start the overtime and got as far as their 34-yard line before Brees was picked off by John Johnson II, stopping whatever hopes the Saints had of going to the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles then took advantage of the New Orleans turnover when they got their chance to possess the ball, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that used only 2:12 of clock and sending Saints fans home in less than a festive mood when Zuerlein connected on a 52-yard field goal with 11:43 in the OT. Los Angeles outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Brees threw for 249 yards with a pair of sacks and the interception that ended their Super Bowl hopes, while Goff threw for 297 yards with a TD, sack and interception. The Rams were 6 of 16 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints were 6 of 14 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New Orleans covered the 1-point spread at home, winning by 10 in the week nine contest and the 80 combined points was more than enough to cover the 60 1/2 over/under. In the NFC Championship game, the Saints were again the favorite, this time by 3 1/2. The Rams’ three-point overtime win meant that they missed the spread and the 49 points that they would combine for did not come close to the 57 1/2 over/under. The odds makers have the Rams as 2 1/2 point favorites on the West Coast with a 52 1/2 over/under. For the Rams, it’s a chance to prove that they are the NFC champs; for the Saints, it’s revenge. Rams win in Los Angeles and covers the 2 1/2.

Cleveland (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week two ends in the Meadowlands as a pair of teams that are looking for their first win meet at Met Life Stadium as the Browns and Jets, the first teams to play a Monday night game in the history of the NFL, meet in upstate New Jersey.

Tennessee led Cleveland and Baker Mayfield 12-6 at the half at First Energy Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Browns 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming away 43-13 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. Tennessee outrushed the Browns 123-102 and made life less than pleasant for Mayfield (285 yards), sacking him five times (once for a safety) and picking him off three times, while Mariota had his way with Cleveland, throwing for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, despite being sacked four times. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Tennessee was 2 of 10, the Browns were 1 of 10; Cleveland was 0 for 2 on fourth down) but the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:42 to Tennessee’s 29:18.

GangGreen watched Buffalo erase a 16-3 deficit after three quarters of play (they trailed 6-0 at the half) and scored 14 fourth quarter points against Sam Darnold (175 yards, TD, four sacks) unchallenged to escape Met Life Stadium with a 17-16 win. Bills QB Josh Allen (254 yards) used his arm and legs in the final 15 minutes of action, rushing for a 1-yard score early in the fourth and then connecting with WR Josh Brown with three minutes left in regulation to take the win. Buffalo outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 128-68, with Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary leading all rushers with 70. Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while the Jets were 32:01 in time of possession, going 7 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs. Darnold will miss Monday’s contest because of a bout of mononucelosis and Trevor Siemian will take his spot.

The Browns lead the series 13-12 and have outscored GangGreen 511-503. They met last year along the shores of Lake Erie and Cleveland picked up their first win in almost two years, taking a 21-17 victory (New York’s last win in the series came in 2017 by a final of 17-14 in Cleveland).

They met in week three along the shores of Lake Erie and Cleveland erased a 14-3 deficit at the break to tie things up at 14-14 going into the finel 15 minutes of play. After Browns RB Carlos Hyde scored from from a yard out and they would go for two, New York reclaimed the lead on a 28-yard field goal by Josh Myers. That lead would not last very long as Cleveland used a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:52 to take the lead back for good when Hyde scored his second TD of the half. Cleveland then held off the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to pick up their first win in almost two years. Cleveland outrushed New York 133-107 with Hyde leading all rushers with 98 yards and the two TDs, Mayfield threw for 201 yards with a sack but did not throw an interception (Darnold threw for 169 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions). GangGreen went 6 of 15 on third down in the Thursday night week three contest (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:08, while Cleveland was 7 of 18 on third down and kept the ball for 30:52.

On Monday night, the Browns are 15-15 and have not played on MNF since 2015, where they played only one contest and took a loss in that, while the Jets are 22-31. They played only one game in 2018 but took a win in that affair. In the very first Monday night contest, which took place on September 21 of 1970, the Jets and Browns met at old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, with the game being televised by ABC (Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meridith were on the mike), the game was a sellout and Cleveland beat Joe Namath and the Jets 31-21 in that conest.

Cleveland covered the 3-point spread in the week three opener on Thursday night, winning by 4. Both clubs combined for 38 points, barely missing the 39 1/2 over/under. The Browns are favored by 3 on the road in upstate New Jersey and the over/under is 45. Both numbers are reasonable. Could history repeat? We think so. Cleveland covers the 3 and takes the Monday night win.

It’s finally here.

No more two-a-days.

No more fighting sweat, bugs, the heat and your teammates.

No more having to sleep in college dorms.

The preseason is over. Done. Kaput.

Sunday and Monday NFL football gets to see the light of day.

Thursday night started the 2019 NFL regular season as Green Bay beat Chicago in the Windy City in the season opener Thursday night, the first of 256 games that will be played between now and the Sunday after Christmas. It’s a 16-game season that lasts 17 weeks. There will be games that will be played in London, starting in week five as well as a game that will take place South of the border in week 11.

16 games. 16 chances for a player to get a weekly paycheck.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is also the 100th anniversary of what we now call the National Football League. There will be celebrations throughout the season and most teams will be wearing their throwback uniforms. All 32 teams will be wearing a special 100th Anniversary patch on the yoke of their jerseys (both home and away).

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL100 Game of the Week. Each game will be a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a match-up of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL designated the Packers-Bears contest as the NFL100 GAME OF THE WEEK for Week 1. In arguably the league’s richest all-time rivalry, the Packers and Bears met for the 199th time, including the postseason, in a series that spans all 10 NFL decades. The franchises first met November 27, 1921, when the eventual NFL champion Chicago Staleys shut out the Packers, 20-0. Combined, the two organizations have accounted for 22 world championships,13 for Green Bay, nine for Chicago (numbers one and two respectively, all-time). The two teams have also combined to put 53 individuals in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 28 from the Bears (No. 1 all-time) and 25 from the Packers (Number 2 all-time), with respect to those who spent the majority of their careers with a club.

Welcome to 2019. Expect new teams to earn playoff berths, a few consistent players and clubs to excel again, records to fall and young players to forge ahead as they introduce themselves to our collective excitement. It’s a familiar script, a story that has fueled the league’s popularity for 99 years. The blanks will be filled in come February. What is known this week is that every team holds fast to a dream: Super Bowl LIV in Miami and with history as an indication, every team has a legitimate shot. 31 teams want the Lombardi Trophy and New England has it. They are Golum and the Super Ring is their precious.

THE FIELD IS OPEN: In 2018, two teams – Houston (AFC South) and Chicago (NFC North) – won their divisions after finishing in last place the year before. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.

Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, two clubs have gone “worst to first” en route to a Super Bowl victory – the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2009 New Orleans Saints.

Since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Seven teams that missed the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore (10-6), Chicago (12-4), Dallas (10-6), Houston (11-5), Indianapolis (10-6), the Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) and Seattle (10-6) – earned a playoff berth in 2018.

MOST-EVER SUPER BOWL WINS: The New England Patriots won their sixth Lombardi Trophy last year and begin their quest to break a tie with their Kickoff Weekend opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, for the most-ever Super Bowl victories. The AFC stalwarts clash to open Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. on NBC. By winning another title this season, New England would also join Pittsburgh as the only teams to win consecutive Super Bowls on two occasions.

RECORDS WITHIN REACH: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (520) needs 20 touchdown passes and New England quarterback Tom Brady (517) needs 23 to surpass Peyton Manning (539) for the most all-time. Brees (34) also needs two games of four-or-more touchdown passes to eclipse Manning (35) for the most four-touchdown games in NFL annals. Brees (9,783) needs 387 pass attempts to leap Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (10,169) for most on the all-time list. Brady will play his 20th season with the Patriots, tying two Pro Football Hall of Famers, Washington’s Darrell Green and the Rams’ Jackie Slater, for the second-most seasons with one franchise in NFL history. Detroit’s Jason Hanson (21) owns the league record. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald can become the first player in league history to earn three consecutive AP Defensive Player of the Year honors. With a third overall, Donald would tie J.J. Watt (2012, 2014-15) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor (1981-82, 1986) for most all-time. Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore (14,748) needs 522 rushing yards to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (15,269) for third on the all-time list. Gore (18,544) also needs 611 yards from scrimmage to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (19,154) for fourth on the all-time list. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (1,303) needs 23 receptions to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for second on the NFL’s all-time list. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,549) holds the career record. Fitzgerald (9) also needs 1,000 receiving yards to tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (10) for second on the NFL’s all-time list of most 1,000-yard seasons. Rice (14) holds the career record.

SUCCESS WITH FIRST-YEAR LEADERS: Seven teams enter this season with a new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, Zac Taylor in Cincinnati, Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland, Vic Fangio in Denver, Matt LaFleur in Green Bay, Brian Flores in Miami, Adam GASE with the New York Jets and Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. Four rookie head coaches have led their teams to the playoffs over the last two seasons: Matt Nagy (Chicago) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis) in 2018 and Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) and Sean McDermott (Buffalo) in 2017. Kingsbury, Kitchens, Fangio, LaFleur and Flores are all first-time head coaches in 2019.

FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES: Several notable players were on the move during the off-season and preseason, including quarterbacks Joe Flacco (Denver) and Nick Foles (Jacksonville); running backs Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets), Mark Ingram (Baltimore), Frank Gore (Buffalo) and LeSean McCoy (Kansas City); wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (Cleveland), Antonio Brown (Oakland) and DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) and Kenny Stills (Houston); tight end Jared Cook (New Orleans); tackles Trent Brown (Oakland) and Laremy Tunsil (Houston); guard Rodger Saffold (Tennessee); center Mitch Morse (Buffalo); defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah (Seattle), Frank Clark (Kansas City), Jadaveon Clowney (Seattle), Trey Flowers (Detroit) and Cameron Wake (Tennessee); defensive tackles Malik Jackson (Philadelphia) and Gerald McCoy (Carolina); linebackers Kiko Alonso (New Orleans), Dee Ford (San Francisco), Clay Matthews (Los Angeles Rams), C.J. Mosley (New York Jets) and Terrell Suggs (Arizona); cornerbacks Robert Alford (Arizona), Bradley Roby (Houston) and Steven Nelson (Pittsburgh) and safeties Landon Collins (Washington); Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City), Earl Thomas (Baltimore) and Eric Weddle (Los Angeles Rams).

YOUNG STARS TAKE THE STAGE: Youth is being served. Last season, seven rookies – New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Seattle punter Michael Dickson, Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, Denver running back Phillip Lindsay, Indianapolis guard Quenton Nelson, Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and Cleveland cornerback Denzel Ward – earned Pro Bowl honors.

Last year, 39 players age 25 or younger as of December 31, 2018, were selected to the Pro Bowl. And 16 of those 39 were voted AP All-Pro, including New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, Chicago kick-returner Tarik Cohen, Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett, Minnesota defensive end Danielle Hunter, New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas and the reigning MVP, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Three quarterbacks – Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (Number 1 overall, Arizona), Duke’s Daniel Jones (Number 6, New York Giants) and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (Number 15, Washington) – were selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. At least one rookie quarterback has started a Kickoff Weekend contest in 11 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 1

SUPER STARTERS: History indicates that the best way for a team to start its drive toward a Super Bowl championship is to win in Week 1.

The 53 Super Bowl winners have a 43-9-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots, who host Pittsburgh in their season-opener on Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. on NBC, have won nine of their past 10 home openers played on Kickoff Weekend, the most in the NFL over that span.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule, and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious in their season-openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:

Of the 602 teams that won openers…311 went to the playoffs (189 won division titles) and of the 601 teams that lost openers…147 went to the playoffs (85 won division titles).

Note: There are a different number of winning and losing teams in season-opening games due to the fact the NFL had 31 teams in each season from 1999-2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2018, three of the four participants in the conference championships – Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams and New England – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend, including both Super Bowl teams.

STARTING STREAKS: Some clubs have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff milestones and streaks:

Chicago hosted Green Bay Thursday Night Football to kick off the NFL’s 100th season. Green Bay’s 56 Kickoff Weekend wins are the most all-time and Chicago’s 54 wins rank second. The Packers have won their past four Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFC.

Denver, who will begin the season by visiting AFC West rival Oakland on Monday Night Football at 10:20 p.m. on ESPN, have posted a .672 winning percentage (39-19-1) on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the league. Denver has won its past seven Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs visit Jacksonville in Week 1 at 1 p.m. on CBS. The Chiefs have won their last four Kickoff Weekend games, tied for the league’s second-longest active streak.

The defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys host Eli Manning and the New York Giants in an NFC East showdown at 4:25 p.m. on FOX. Dallas and New York face each other on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the last five years. With a winning percentage of .655 (38-20-1), the Cowboys own the best Kickoff Weekend winning percentage in the NFC.

The Seattle Seahawks, who returned to the playoffs in 2018, host the Cincinnati Bengals at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Seattle has won 10 consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the league.

The Washington Redskins make their way up I-95 to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love to start the season at 1 p.m. on FOX. Washington has won its past three road openers, the longest active streak in the league.

*From 1920-71, tie games were not included in winning percentage

START ME UP: Some players have excelled in openers. Below is a sampling of notable individual performances on NFL Kickoff Weekend:

New England quarterback Tom Brady has 34 touchdown passes in 16 career Week 1 games and needs one touchdown pass against Pittsburgh Sunday night to surpass Peyton Manning (34) for the second-most touchdown passes in season-opening games in NFL history. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees leads all players with 37 touchdown passes in 17 career Kickoff Weekend games, as New Orleans hosts Houston on Monday Night Football at 7:10 p.m. on ESPN.

Brees, who led all players with 439 passing yards on Kickoff Weekend in 2018, has three career 400-yard passing games in season-opening games, the most by any player in NFL history. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS, who passed for 424 yards in Week 1 last season, and Manning are the only other players with multiple 400-yard passing games on Kickoff Weekend.

Washington running back Adrian Peterson has 999 rushing yards in 12 career season-opening games and needs 1 rushing yard on Sunday against Philadelphia to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 rushing yards in season-opening games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (1,247), Walter Payton (1,067) and Jim Brown (1,043), as well as Edgerrin James (1,062).

Peterson also enters the season with nine career rushing touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend and needs one more to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (12), Chuck Muncie (11) and Priest Holmes (10) as the only players in NFL history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns in season-opening games.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had 147 receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend in 2018 with Tampa Bay, has five career games with at least 100 yards receiving in Week 1, tied for the second-most all-time. With at least 100 receiving yards against Washington on Sunday, Jackson would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

START ’EM EARLY: Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the number 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first career start against Detroit on Sunday in the desert at 4:25 p.m. on FOX. With a start by Murray, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 12 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

QUARTERBACK, TEAM (STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE, SEASON)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (11-5, 2008)
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA (11-5, 2009)
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (8-7, 2009)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (2-8, 2010)*
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (7-9, 2011)*
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (9-7, 2011)
Cam Newton, Carolina (6-10, 2012)*
Robert Griffin III, Washington (9-6, 2012)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (11-5, 2012)*
Ryan Tannehill, Miami (7-9, 2012)
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (5-10, 2012)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (11-5, 2013)
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo (4-6, 2013)
Geno Smith, New York Jets (8-8, 2014)
Derek Carr, Oakland (3-13, 2015)
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (3-13, 2015)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (6-10, 2016)*
Dak Prescott, Dallas (13-3, 2016)
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (7-9, 2017)
DeShone Kizer, Cleveland (0-15, 2018)
Sam Darnold, New York Jets (4-9, 2019)
Kyler Murray, Arizona (– 2019)*^

*No. 1 overall pick
^Expected to start Week 1

WONDERFUL WILSON: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has 196 career passing touchdowns and 25,624 career passing yards in 112 career games during his eight-year NFL career.

With four passing touchdowns on Sunday at home in the Pacific Northwest against Cincinnati, Wilson can surpass Tom Brady (116 games) to become the fifth-fastest player in league history to reach 200 career passing touchdowns.

The players to reach 200 career passing touchdowns in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO REACH 200 PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)
Dan Marino – Miami (89)(HOF)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (99)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (106)
Brett Favre – Atlanta and Green Bay (107)(HOF)
Tom Brady – New England (116)
Russell Wilson – Seattle (112)*
*Has 196 career touchdown passes

With four touchdown passes, Wilson would also become the first player in league history with at least 200 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns (16) in his first eight seasons.

MOVING ON UP: Washington running back Adrian Peterson enters 2019 with 106 career rushing touchdowns during his 12-year NFL career.

With a rushing touchdown on Sunday at Philadelphia, Peterson can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (106 rushing touchdowns) for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns in league annals.

The players with the most rushing touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS)
Emmitt Smith – Dallas and Arizona (164)(HOF)
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego and New York Jets (145)(HOF)
Marcus Allen – Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City (123)(HOF)
Walter Payton – Chicago (110) (HOF)
Jim Brown – Cleveland (106)(HOF)
Adrian Peterson – Minnesota, Arizona and Washington (106)*
*Active

RINGING THE BELL: Running back Le’Veon Bell makes his New York Jets debut on Sunday against Buffalo.

Bell, who has 7,996 career scrimmage yards in 62 games, need four scrimmage yards to become the fastest player to reach 8,000 career scrimmage yards in league history.

The players to reach 8,000 career scrimmage yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO REACH 8,000 SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams (64)(HOF)
Edgerrin James – Indianapolis (65)
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego (65)(HOF)
Jim Brown – Cleveland (67)(HOF)
Marcus Allen – Los Angeles Raiders (68)(HOF)
Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh and New York Jets (62)*
*Has 7,996 scrimmage yards

DUAL THREAT: New England running back James White enters his sixth NFL season with 19 career receiving touchdowns.

With a receiving touchdown against Pittsburgh Sunday night, White can join Chuck Foreman (23 receiving touchdowns) and Brian Westbrook (23) as the only running backs in league history with at least 20 touchdown receptions in their first six seasons.

The running backs with at least 20 receiving touchdowns in their first six seasons:

PLAYER – TEAM (RECEIVING TDs)
Chuck Foreman – Minnesota (23)
Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia (23)
James White – New England (19)*
*Entering sixth season

700 CLUB: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones has 698 receptions for 10,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in 111 career games.

Jones needs two receptions on Sunday at Minnesota to become the second-fastest player to reach 700 receptions in NFL history.

The players to reach 700 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO REACH 700 RECEPTIONS)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (111)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (114)(HOF)
Andre Johnson – Houston (120)
Brandon Marshall – Denver, Miami and Chicago (121)
Anquan Boldin – Arizona and Baltimore (123)
Julio Jones – ATLANTA (111)*
*Has 698 receptions

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2019: The Carolina Panthers (199-201-1) need one win for 200 as a franchise, including postseason.

The Denver Broncos (499-433-10, .535) need one win for 500 in franchise history, including postseason. Among the original eight AFL franchises that launched in 1960, only the Boston/New England Patriots have reached that milestone.

The Indianapolis Colts need six regular-season wins to reach 300 since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Since changing their home address from Baltimore to the Hooiser State, the Colts are 294-265-0 (.526) in regular season contests. Since selecting Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft, they’re 206-130-0 (.613), with 15 playoff berths in 21 seasons.

The Minnesota Vikings need two wins to reach 500, including postseason. The Vikings enter 2019 with a 498-426-11 (.539) all-time record.

The New England Patriots need one Super Bowl victory to break a tie with Pittsburgh (six) for most ever.

The Patriots also need:

One Super Bowl victory to join Pittsburgh as the only NFL teams to win consecutive Super Bowls on two occasions. Pittsburgh did it following the 1974-75 and 1978-79 seasons and New England did it after the 2003-04 seasons.

One Super Bowl appearance to join Buffalo as one of only two clubs to ever play in four straight. The Bills reached the Super Bowl to punctuate each of the 1990-93 seasons.

One berth in a conference championship game to tie Pittsburgh’s NFL record, 16. New England enters 2019 tied with San Francisco for second all-time, with 15.

One postseason victory to extend their NFL record, 37. Pittsburgh enters 2019 with 36, second all-time.

One number one seed to match San Francisco and Denver (eight each) for most since playoff seeding began in 1975. New England enters 2019 third with seven such seasons.

Two home playoff wins to match their own 11-game streak from 1996-2008, the second longest in league annals. The Patriots enter 2019 having won nine consecutive postseason tilts in Foxboro. Green Bay (1939-2001) owns the league record, 13.

Three postseason games to become just the third team to reach 60. Entering 2019, only Dallas (63) and Pittsburgh (61) have reached the milestone. The Patriots have 57.

Ten wins to reach 17 consecutive seasons with 10 victories and break a tie with San Francisco (16 from 1983-98) for the longest streak in league history. The Patriots have won at least 10 games every year since going 9-7 in 2002.

Twelve wins to reach 13 overall seasons with 12 victories and match the number achieved by San Francisco, most in the NFL since the 1970 merger. The Patriots enter 2019 tied with Dallas (12) for second over that span.

Three wins to reach 116 since the start of 2010 and break the Indianapolis Colts’ NFL record for victories in a decade (115, 2000-09) and nine victories to reach 34 winning seasons. Since 1970, only Pittsburgh (36) and Dallas (33) have achieved as many winning seasons.

The Oakland Raiders (491-442-11, .526) need nine wins for 500 in franchise history, including postseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need two wins to give Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger the third most by a head
coach/quarterback combination in history. The duo enters 2019 with 115 regular-season victories, one behind number 3 Don
Shula/Dan Marino (116), number 1 Bill Belichick/Tom Brady (207) and number 2 Sean Payton/Drew Brees (118) also enter 2019 looking to add to their totals.

Michael Badgley (Los Angeles Chargers) could establish the best field-goal percentage by a player over his first two NFL seasons, with a minimum 25 attempts. Badgley (.938) made 15 of 16 field-goal attempts as a 2018 rookie. Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (.919, 68-for-74 from 2012-13) holds the record.

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) needs 1,972 scrimmage yards to become the third ever to record 4,000 in his first two seasons, joining Eric Dickerson (4,456, 1983-84) and Edgerrin James (4,442, 1999-2000). Barkley enters 2019 with 2,028.

Odell Beckham, Jr. (Cleveland) needs 1,000 receiving yards to tie for the second-most 1,000-yard seasons (five) over his first six years. Lance Alworth (1963-67), Marques Colston (2006-11), Mike Evans (2014-18), A.J. Green (2011-15), Torry Holt (2000-04), Chad Johnson (2002-06), Brandon Marshall (2007-11) and Jerry Rice (1986-90) also did it. Randy Moss (1998-2003) is the only player ever to record 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons. Beckham had four-figure seasons in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Beckham also needs 100 receiving yards in his Browns debut to surpass Julio Jones for second-most receiving yards over his first 60 games. Jones compiled 5,575 from 2011-15. Beckham enters 2019 with 5,476 over his first 59 contests. Lance Alworth (5,907) holds the 60-game record.

Beckham needs three receptions in each of his first two games to surpass Cris Carter’s streak of games with three-plus catches. Carter, who owns the third-longest streak in NFL history, had three catches in 58 straight from December 12, 1993, to October 5, 1997 – all with Minnesota. Reggie Wayne (82, 2009-14) and Antonio Brown (76, 2013-17) are first and second, respectively, on the all-time list. Beckham enters 2019 with a 57-game streak, from October 19, 2014, to December 2, 2018.

Bill Belichick (New England) needs a Super Bowl win to join George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only NFL coaches with six league championships. Belichick also needs One Super Bowl win to capture consecutive league titles for the second time (2003-04) and become just the third coach in history to accomplish that, joining Chuck Noll (1974-75, 1978-79) and Vince Lombardi (1961-62, 1965-67) and eight wins to reach 300 career (regular and postseason) and become just the third coach to achieve that mark, joining Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324). Belichick enters 2019 number 3 on the all-time list with 292.

Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets) needs 2,004 scrimmage yards to reach 10,000 career. He enters 2019 with 7,996 in 62 career games. Bell also needs 340 yards receiving to reach 3,000. He enters 2019 with 2,660 in 62 career games and eight touchdowns to reach 50. He enters 2019 with 42 in 62 career games.

Tom Brady (New England) will play his 20th season with the Patriots, tying Washington’s Darrell Green and the Rams’ Jackie Slater for the second-most seasons with one franchise in NFL history. Detroit’s Jason Hanson (21) owns the league record. Brady also needs: 23 touchdown passes to eclipse No. 1 Peyton Manning (539). Number 2 Drew Brees enters 2019 with 520. Brady enters 2019 number 3 on the all-time list with 517, 35 touchdown passes to reach five such seasons and surpass Peyton Manning (four) for most in NFL history. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers also enter 2019 with four 35-TD seasons and to lead the NFL in touchdown passes to establish an NFL record. Brady enters 2019 having led the league in the category on four occasions, tied with Drew Brees, Len Dawson, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Steve Young for most in history, one Pro Bowl invitation to become a 15-time Pro Bowler and surpass four players – all Hall of Famers – for most in history: Tony Gonzalez (14), Peyton Manning (14), Bruce Matthews (14) and Merlin Olsen (14), 1,325 passing yards to surpass number 3 Brett Favre (71,838) and 1,427 to surpass number 2 Peyton Manning (71,940). Drew Brees (74,437) enters 2019 at number 1. Brady (70,514) enters 2019 at number 4.

Drew Brees (New Orleans) needs 20 touchdown passes to surpass number 1 Peyton Manning (539) on the all-time list. Brees enters 2019 with 520, second in NFL history. Brees also needs to throw four touchdowns in two games to eclipse Manning (35) for most four-TD games in NFL annals. Brees (34) enters 2019 number 2 all-time, needing 387 pass attempts to eclipse number 1 Brett Favre (10,169) on the all-time list. Brees enters 2019 number 2 all-time with 9,783, 414 completions to become the first in NFL history to reach 7,000. Brees enters 2019 number 1 with 6,586 and needs 563 passing yards to become the first in NFL history to reach 75,000. Brees enters 2019 number 1 with 74,437.

Antonio Brown (Oakland) needs 1,000 yards receiving to reach that figure in eight career seasons. Over their first 10 years in the league, only Jerry Rice (nine from 1985-94), Randy Moss (eight from 1998-2007), Torry Holt (eight from 2000-07) and Brandon Marshall (eight from 2007-15) have compiled eight 1,000-yard seasons. Brown enters 2019 with seven 1,000-yard campaigns over his first nine years. Brown also needs 104 receptions to surpass number 20 Art Monk (940) on the NFL’s all-time list. Brown enters 2019 with 837 career catches, 28th in league history.

Brown needs 100 receptions to capture sole possession of the NFL record with a seventh 100-catch season. Brown enters 2019 with six such seasons, tied with Brandon Marshall (2007-09, 2012-13 and 2015), 91 receptions to break Marvin Harrison’s NFL record (927, 1996-2005) for most receptions over a player’s first 10 seasons. Brown enters 2019 with 837.

Brown needs 1,200 yards receiving to reach that mark in a seventh consecutive season. Only Jerry Rice (nine from 1988-96), Randy Moss (six from 1998-2003), Torry Holt (six from 2000-05) and Brown (six from 2013-18) have authored streaks of at least six 1,200-yard seasons.

Brown needs 1,500 yards receiving to match Jerry Rice’s NFL record for 1,500-yard seasons, four. Brown enters 2019 with three 1,500-yard seasons and 793 receiving yards for 12,000. Brown would become just the fifth player in NFL history to break that barrier in his first 10 seasons.

Derek Carr (Oakland) needs 370 completions to surpass Peyton Manning (2,128) for most in his first six seasons. Carr enters 2019 with the most completions (1,759) ever over a player’s first five campaigns. Carr also needs 300 completions to join Peyton Manning as the only passers to reach that mark in each of their first six NFL seasons and 3,000 passing yards to join Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson as the only players to reach that mark in their first six seasons. Carr also needs 20 touchdown passes to join Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks ever to reach that mark in five of their first six seasons.

Pete Carroll (Seattle) needs two wins to reach 100 and become just the fifth active head coach to achieve that mark with his current club. He would join Bill Belichick (255), Mike Tomlin (133), Sean Payton (126) and John Harbaugh (114). Carroll enters 2019 98-60-1 as Seattle’s head coach, including postseason. Overall as an NFL head coach, he’s 132-93-1.

John Denny (Miami) enters 2019 with a franchise-record 224 consecutive games played, the league’s longest active streak.

Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams) could become the first player in history to earn three consecutive AP Defensive Player of the Year honors. Donald enters 2019 having captured the last two awards (2017-18) and with a third overall would tie J.J. Watt (2012, 2014-15) and Lawrence Taylor (1981-82, 1986) for most alltime.

Julian Edelman (New England) needs one 100-yard receiving game in the postseason to break a tie with number 2 Michael Irvin (six). Jerry Rice (eight) owns the NFL record. Edelman enters 2019 with six.

Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) needs 1,000 receiving yards to join Randy Moss (1998-2003) as one of two players ever to reach 1,000 in each of their first six NFL seasons. Evans also needs 965 receiving yards to surpass No. 10 Larry Fitzgerald (7,067 from 2004-09) on the NFL’s list of most receiving yards over a player’s first six seasons since 1970. Evans enters 2019 with 6,103 yards in five seasons.

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) needs 23 receptions to surpass Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for second on the NFL’s all-time list. Jerry Rice (1,549) holds the career record. Fitzgerald enters 2019 number 3 with 1,303. Fitzgerald also needs 1,000 receiving yards to tie number 2 Randy Moss (10) on the NFL’s all-time list of most 1,000-yard seasons. Jerry Rice holds the career record with 14. Fitzgerald (nine) enters 2019 tied for number 3 with Tim Brown and Terrell Owens.

Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers) needs 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns to extend his streak of seasons with those numbers to four. That would tie Marshawn Lynch (2011-14) and Thurman Thomas (1989-92) for the third-longest streak in NFL history. Gordon also needs 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns to extend his league-leading streak of seasons with those numbers to four.

Frank Gore (Buffalo) needs 522 rushing yards to surpass number 3 Barry Sanders (15,269) on the all-time list. Gore enters 2019 at number 4 with 14,748.

Stephen Gostkowski (New England) New England, needs to lead the league in scoring to break a tie with Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five, AFL) for most seasons with that distinction. Gostkowski has paced the NFL five times: 2008, 2012-15.

DeAndre Hopkins (Houston) needs 100 catches, 1,500 receiving yards and 11 TD receptions to join Marvin Harrison (1999, 2001-02) as the only players ever to reach those benchmarks in three NFL seasons. Hopkins eclipsed those three standards in 2015 and 2018.

Desmond King (Los Angeles Chargers) needs to return one interception for a touchdown to become the ninth player in NFL history with a pick-six in each of his first three seasons and the first since Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did so from 2008-10.

Jarvis Landry (Cleveland) needs 48 receptions to establish the NFL record for catches over a player’s first six seasons, breaking the mark held by DeAndre Hopkins (528, 2013-18). Landry enters 2019 with 481 receptions over his first five years,
2014-18.

Zack Martin (Dallas) needs a Pro Bowl selection to become one of five offensive linemen ever to secure a Pro Bowl invitation in his first six seasons, joining Lou Creekmur (eight from 1950-57 with Detroit), Jon Morris (seven from 1964-70 with Boston Patriots), Joe Thomas (10 from 2007-16 with Cleveland) and Richmond Webb (seven from 1990-96 with Miami). Martin enters 2019 on a five-year streak (2014-18).

Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) needs a touchdown pass in each of his first 11 starts to break Kurt Warner’s NFL-record string of career-opening starts with a TD pass. The Pro Football Hall of Famer established the mark over his first 23 NFL starts, from 1999-2000. Mayfield enters 2019 with a 13-start streak. Mayfield also needs 23 passing touchdowns to become the seventh ever to reach 50 in his first two seasons. He needs 26 to surpass number 2 David Carr (52, 2015-16) and 42 to surpass No. 1 Dan Marino (68, 1983-84) for most ever over a player’s initial two years. Mayfield threw for 27 as a 2018 rookie.

Christian McCaffery (Carolina) needs 52 receptions to surpass LaDainian Tomlinson (238 from 2001-03) for the most catches by a running back over his first three seasons. McCaffrey enters 2019 with 187 receptions over his first two campaigns.

LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) needs 1,090 rushing yards to surpass Jamal Lewis (10,607), Ricky Watters (10,643), Warrick Dunn (10,967), O.J. Simpson (11,236), Corey Dillon (11,241), John Riggins (11,352), Steven Jackson (11,438) and Fred Taylor (11,695) on the league’s all-time list and move from 25th to 17th. McCoy enters 2019 with 10,606.

Von Miller (Denver) needs two sacks for 100 career. Miller opens the season with 98, while Cameron Wake (98) and J.J. Watt (92) also are approaching 100. Terrell Suggs (132.5) leads all active players.

Cam Newton (Carolina) needs 121 rushing yards to surpass No. 2 Randall Cunningham (4,928) on the league’s career list of rushing yards by a quarterback. Newton enters 2019 with 4,808. Michael Vick (6,109) holds the NFL record.

Bill O’Brien (Houston) needs nine wins to join Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh as the only active head coaches with five winning seasons over their first six years at the reins of an NFL club. O’Brien has guided the Texans to three AFC South titles in his first five years.

Adrian Peterson (Washington) needs 345 yards rushing to surpass number 7 Jerome Bettis. He also needs 367 to surpass number 6 LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) and 784 to surpass number Curtis Martin (14,101). Peterson enters 2019 with 13,318, eighth alltime. Peterson also needs one rushing touchdown to surpass number 5 Jim Brown (106) on the all-time list and five to surpass number 4 Walter Payton (110).

Peterson enters 2019 tied with Brown at 106, one game of 200 yards rushing to reach seven career and break O.J. Simpson’s NFL record (six). Peterson enters 2019 with six 200-yard games, tied with Simpson and needs four 100-yard rushing games to surpass number 7 Edgerrin James (57) on the NFL’s all-time list and five to surpass number 6 Jim Brown (58). Peterson enters 2019 at number 8 with 54 100-yard rushing games.

Dak Prescott (Dallas) needs eight victories to become only the sixth quarterback in NFL history to win 40 regular-season games in his first four seasons. Russell Wilson (46), Joe Flacco (44), Matt Ryan (43), Dan Marino (41) and Andy Dalton (40) are the others. Prescott enters 2019 with 32. Prescott also needs five rushing touchdowns to surpass Daunte Culpepper (22) for second-most ever by a quarterback. Cam Newton (33, 2011-14) holds the record. Prescott enters 2019 with 18 and also can eclipse the four-season marks set by Steve Grogan (21), Johnny Lujack (21) and Frankie Albert (20).

Damarious Randall (Cleveland) needs three interceptions to become the first NFL player in 22 years with three INTs in each of his first five seasons. Tom Carter compiled his five-season streak by picking off 21 passes from 1993-97 with Washington and Chicago. Randall enters 2019 having collected 14 interceptions with Green Bay and Cleveland since 2015.

Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) needs 251 pass attempts to surpass number 7 John Elway (7,250) on the all-time list. Rivers enters 2019 with 7,000 career attempts. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (7,168) enters 2019 number 8 on the list. Rivers also needs 344 passing yards to become the eighth in NFL history to reach 55,000. Rivers enters 2019 with 54,656 and needs 26 touchdown passes to become the sixth in NFL history with 400. Rivers enters 2019 with 374, 47 shy of surpassing number 5 Dan Marino (420) on the all-time list, two 300-yard passing games to surpass No. 4 Marino (63). Rivers enters 2019 with 62. Drew Brees (115), Peyton Manning (93) and Tom Brady (87) rank 1-3 on the list entering 2019 and to throw at least three touchdowns in four games to reach 60 three-TD contests. Only six players have thrown for three touchdowns in that many games. Rivers enters 2019 with 56 such efforts.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) needs four wins to surpass number 6 Dan Marino (147) and five to surpass number 5 John Elway (148) on the all-time list of regular-season victories by a starting quarterback. number 1 Tom Brady (207), number 2 Brett Favre and Peyton Manning (186) and number 4 Drew Brees (155) lead the category entering the year. Roethlisberger begins 2019 with 144 wins as a starting quarterback.

Matt Ryan (Atlanta) needs 3,280 passing yards to become the 10th player ever to reach 50,000. Drew Brees reached 50,000 faster than any player, in his 183rd game. Peyton Manning (191) was second-fastest. Ryan enters 2019 with 46,720 in 174 games.

Matthew Slater (New England) needs one Pro Bowl invitation as a special-teams player to reach eight and break a tie with Steve Tasker (seven, 1987-1990-95) for most in NFL annals. Slater enters 2019 having earned seven Pro Bowl honors (2011-17).

Matthew Stafford (Detroit) needs 1,474 passing yards to reach 40,000. He needs to accomplish that feat within his first nine games to become fastest in NFL history to reach that mark. Matt Ryan holds the record (151 games). Stafford enters 2019 with 38,526 yards in 141 games. Stafford also needs to throw for 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns to become just the seventh in NFL history to reach those numbers in nine consecutive seasons, joining Drew Brees (14, 2005-present), Peyton Manning (13, 1998-2010), Philip Rivers (11, 2008-present), Tom Brady (10, 2009-present), Brett Favre (nine, 1994-2002) and Matt Ryan (nine, 2010-present).

Aqib Talib (Los Angeles Rams) needs one interception-return touchdown to tie No. 2 Darren Sharper and Charles Woodson (11) and two to tie number 1 Rod Woodson (12) on the all-time list. Talib enters 2019 at number 4 with 10 career.

Michael Thomas (New Orleans) needs 90 receptions to become the only NFL player ever to reach 90 in each of his first four seasons. To date, Thomas (2016-18) and Odell Beckham Jr. (2014-16) are the only players ever to catch 90 passes in each of their first three NFL seasons. Thomas also needs 80 catches to break the NFL record held by Jarvis Landry (400) for most receptions by a player in his first four seasons. Thomas enters 2019 with 321 receptions.

Justin Tucker Baltimore) needs 30 field goals to reach seven seasons with 30 or more and extend his NFL record. He enters 2019 with six such seasons, ahead of David Akers, John Carney, Stephen Gostkowski and Robbie Gould (each with five).

Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis) already the NFL’s all-time leader in field goals made (582), needs 18 more to become the first NFL player to reach 600 career. Vinatieri also needs: 20 field-goal attempts to surpass Morten Andersen (709) for most all-time. He enters 2019 No. 2 on the all-time list, with 690 career attempts. Vinatieri needs one game to surpass Gary Anderson (353) for the second-most games played in NFL history. He enters 2019 tied with Anderson at number 2, with 353. Morten Andersen (382) holds the NFL record.

Cameron Wake (Tennessee) needs two sacks for 100 career. Wake opens the season with 98, while Von Miller (98) and J.J. Watt (92) also are approaching 100. Terrell Suggs (132.5) leads all active players.

J.J. Watt (Houston) could earn a fourth AP Defensive Player of the Year Award. No other player has won more than three. He enters 2019 with three, tied with Lawrence Taylor (1981-82, 1986) for most all-time. Watt also needs eight sacks for 100 career. Entering 2019, only 32 players have reached the milestone. Watt opens the season with 92, while Von Miller and Cameron Wake (each with 98) also are approaching 100. Terrell Suggs (132.5) leads all active players, and needs 15 sacks to tie Reggie White’s NFL record of five 15-sack seasons. Watt hit that plateau in 2012 (20.5), 2014 (20.5), 2015 (17.5) and 2018 (16).

Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay), on the NFL’s list of most passing yards over a player’s first five seasons, needs 3,381 passing yards to eclipse No. 10 Andy Dalton (18,008). Winston enters 2019 with 14,628 passing yards. Winston also needs 22 passing touchdowns to surpass number 10 Matthew Stafford and Johnny Unitas (109) on the NFL’s list of most passing touchdowns over a player’s first five seasons. Winston enters 2019 with 88.

Many NFL owners will be celebrating notable milestones in 2019, including Chicago’s McCaskey Family, who has owned the team since its inception in 1920 and will be enjoying the Bears’ 100th season alongside the league. Dallas’ Jerry Jones will be celebrating his 30th anniversary as an NFL owner, while New England’s Robert Kraft and Philadelphia’s Jefferey Lurie – the recipients of the past two Lombardi Trophies – will each be celebrating their 25th.

PLAYING RULE CHANGES FOR THE 2019 SEASON:

• REVIEWABLE PLAYS EXPANDED: For one year only, reviewable plays in Instant Replay will be expanded to include pass interference, called or not called on the field. Also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul and any Try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).

• KICKOFF FORMATION: Makes permanent the kickoff rule changes that were implemented in 2018, which modified rules for a free kick formation and for blocking on a free kick.

• DOUBLE FOULS: Changes the enforcement of double fouls when there is a change of possession.

• EXPANDED PROTECTION OF DEFENSELESS PLAYER: It is now a foul if a player initiates a block when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line and makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm or shoulder. This is also referred to as a blindside block.

• SCRIMMAGE KICK: Simplifies the scrimmage-kick rules. If there is a missed field-goal attempt and the ball has not been touched by the receivers beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play or in the end zone before the ball has touched the ground in the end zone, the following shall apply:

(a) If the spot of the kick was inside the receivers’ 20-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the 20-yard line; or
(b) If the spot of the kick was from the receivers’ 20-yard line or beyond the receivers’ 20-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the spot of the kick.

• FOULS DURING A SCORE: Teams can now elect to enforce an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown either on the succeeding Try (extra point or two-point conversion) or on the succeeding free kick.

• DISQUALIFICATIONS: Allows League personnel to disqualify for both flagrant football and non-football acts, when a flag is related to an act or action.

NEXT MAN UP: Quarterbacks missed a total of 60 games due to injury in 2018, a 46-percent decline from 2017 (111) and approximately 50 percent fewer than the average over the prior three seasons (118).

In 2018, 16 teams had the same quarterback start every game of the regular season, tied for the fourthmost in a single season since the 1970 merger. In five of the past seven seasons, at least half of the teams have had the same quarterback start all 16 games during the regular season, including an NFL-record 20 quarterbacks in 2012.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has started 208 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak in the NFL. With a start in Week 1, Rivers would surpass Peyton Manning (208 consecutive starts, 1998-2011) for the third-most consecutive starts by a quarterback in league history.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has started 147 consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in league annals and in 2019, he can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to start 150 consecutive regular season games.

PATCHWORK: The National Football League will celebrate its 100th season in 2019 with a year-long salute to the unparalleled passion of NFL fans, the many contributions of players, coaches and communities that have helped build the league over the past century. In 2019, teams will wear NFL 100 patches above their team logo on the front of the jersey and each ball will be branded with the NFL 100 logo. Also, each team was given a custom-designed logo to celebrate the league’s 100th season.

Additionally, the NFL will raise awareness for cancer though CRUCIAL CATCH with a decal in Weeks 5, 6 and 7. In Weeks 9, 10 and 11, all teams will wear a camouflage ribbon decal on their helmets to celebrate SALUTE TO SERVICE games.

Several NFL franchises will also be wearing special patches in 2019. Along with the league, the Chicago Bears will celebrate their 100th season, while the Oakland Raiders celebrate their franchise’s 60th season and the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars each celebrate their 25th seasons.

The Green Bay Packers will wear a number 15 decal this season to commemorate the life of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Packers legend, Bart Starr and the Houston Texans will also wear a jersey patch and a helmet decal to honor the franchise’s founder and late owner Bob McNair.

FIRE UP THE TV! NFL fans continue to tune in to the sport they love. Here’s a look at what’s in store on TV in 2019. The regular-season schedule – spanning 17 weeks and 256 games – kicked off Thursday night in the Windy City and
concludes on Sunday, December 29, with 16 division games.

And speaking of division games, one of the richest rivalries in sports history – Packers-Bears – launched the NFL’s 100th season as the annual prime-time kickoff game at Soldier Field Thursday night. New England begins defense of its Super Bowl LIII title in Foxboro on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, September 8, hosting Pittsburgh at 8:20 p.m.

The 50th season of Monday Night Football kicks off September 9 with an ESPN doubleheader, as Houston travels to New Orleans at 7:10 p.m., followed by Denver at Oakland in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m. ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16, including the two teams (Cleveland at the New York Jets, September 16 at 8:15 p.m.) that kicked off the longest running television series in American history, in 1970. There will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.

All 32 clubs are again scheduled for at least one nationally televised Thursday, Sunday or Monday game. Thursday Night Football will air exclusively on NFL Network in Weeks 2-3, while FOX kicks off its Thursday night slate in Week 4. FOX will broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 4-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night). Those FOX games will be simulcast via NFL Network, distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes and streamed on Amazon Prime Video, beginning with Philadelphia at Green Bay, September 26. All told, NFL Network will exclusively televise seven games (two on Thursday night, two in London and all three in Week 16 on Saturday, December 21), with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games.

A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced April 17 and other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 29. For the 11th consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.

Six 2019 games are rematches of 2018 playoff games. That group includes five match-ups that will be played at the home of the team that had to travel in January: Kansas City at New England (December 8 on, CBS), the Los Angeles Rams at Dallas (December 15 on FOX), Chicago at Philadelphia (November 3 on FOX) and Houston at Indianapolis (October 20 on CBS).

The NFL’s 2019 international slate features four games in London and one in Mexico City. The Oakland Raiders will host the Chicago Bears in Week 5 on Sunday, October 6 at 1 p.m. on FOX, in the inaugural NFL game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. One week later on Sunday, October 13 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network, also at Tottenham, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host NFC South rival Carolina, who will be playing their first game in London. London action shifts to Wembley Stadium in Weeks 8 and 9 when the Los Angeles Rams host the Cincinnati Bengals on October 27 at 1 p.m. on CBS, followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting AFC South rival Houston, another first-time visitor to London, on November 3 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network.

Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium will host a match-up between two AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, in Week 11 on Monday Night Football, November 18 at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN. Both teams will be playing in Mexico for the first time.

Thanksgiving will feature a trio of match-ups in Week 13 on Thursday, November 28. The first game will send the Bears to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on FOX. The late-afternoon game will feature Buffalo visiting Dallas at 4:30 p.m. on CBS. It will be the Bills’ first game on the holiday in 25 years, since a trip to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1994. The Thanksgiving Day festivities conclude with an NFC South showdown as the Falcons host New Orleans on NBC at 8:20 p.m. in the Big Peach.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 12. The playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 4-5. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes.

Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 11-12. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 19.

The winners meet two weeks later when Miami hosts Super Bowl LIV, on Sunday, February 2 on FOX. The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets and all postseason games are televised nationally. Westwood One will broadcast on radio all NFL prime-time games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.

BE FLEXY! In 2006, the NFL implemented a prime-time “flexible scheduling” element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17. In 2014, that was extended so that games between Weeks 5 and 17 could be affected by flex scheduling. However, only two games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Week 5 and 10.

In Week 16, three of five possible match-ups currently listed as TBD will be scheduled for Saturday on NFL Network: Houston at Tampa Bay, Buffalo at New England, Detroit at Denver, Oakland at the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco at the Los Angeles Rams. Start times and Saturday games for Week 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.

For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 29. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17 but an afternoon game with playoff implications could be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality match-ups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime-time.

ON THE RADIO: Are the kids hogging the TV? Is the wife watching those gosh-awful Lifetime Sunday Movies AGAIN? Stuck at the in-laws and you want to watch the Falcons? You can listen on the radio. NFL fans can listen to games on the radio in a number of ways – on Westwood One and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Westwood One remains the official network radio partner of the NFL, its 33rd consecutive season with that distinction.

The Westwood One NFL schedule features 69 national games, including the Thursday night kickoff game, Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, the London Games, the Thanksgiving Day triple-header and the entire postseason, culminating with Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Westwood One also produces weekly specialty programs, including The NFL Today, NFL Preview, NFL Insider, NFL Sunday and NFL Fantasy Football Forecast.

Kevn Harlin and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner will be the lead broadcast crew, calling Monday Night Football and Super Bowl LIV for the network. Jim Gray anchors the pregame and halftime shows. Ian Eagle and Tony Boselli will once again be the broadcast crew for Thursday Night Football, while Kevin Kulger and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Taylor return as the main crew for Sunday Night Football. Scott Graham serves as the studio host for those broadcasts.

In addition to being heard on more than 500 radio stations across the United States, all of Westwood One’s prime-time NFL broadcasts can also be heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, via the TuneIn app and through NFL Game Pass, which is available on NFL.com and the NFL mobile app. For complete information regarding Westwood One’s NFL coverage, including schedules, announcers, highlights, features, interviews and more, log on to westwoodonesports.com.

This year will mark the NFL’s 16th season on SiriusXM. SiriusXM creates and offers commercial-free music, premier sports talk and live events, comedy, news, exclusive talk and entertainment programming.

SiriusXM provides live play-by-play of every NFL game from the preseason through Super Bowl LIV on SiriusXM radios, as well as on the SiriusXM app and online at SiriusXM.com for its subscribers.

SiriusXM NFL Radio (channel 88 on SiriusXM radios and on the SiriusXM app) offers in-depth radio coverage of the NFL 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. SiriusXM NFL Radio offers a daily lineup of exclusive talk programming hosted by former NFL stars and radio personalities. Subscribers can also get SiriusXM NFL Radio programming on demand, allowing them to listen to their favorite shows when they want them, and giving them more chances to hear exclusive programming like the recent Town Hall broadcast with Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman, training camp tour broadcasts and more. For more information visit siriusxm.com/nflonsxm.

2019 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

TEAM (WIN PCT., W-L-T) GAMES VS. TEAMS .500 OR BETTER/GAMES VS. 2018 PLAYOFF TEAMS
Oakland (.539, 137-117-2) 9/7
Denver (.537, 136-117 3) 9/7
Jacksonville (.531, 136-120-0) 9/7
Houston .527 135 121 0 9 7
Chicago (.520, 131 121 4) 8 6
Kansas City (.520, 132-122-2) 9/7
ATLANTA (.518, 132-123-1) 9/7
Indianapolis (.518, 132-123-1) 8/5
Tennessee (.514, 131-124-1) 7/7
Minnesota (.512, 130-124-2) 7/7
San Francisco (.510, 129-124-3) 7/6
Arizona (.508, 129-125-2) 7/6
Tampa Bay (.508, 130-126-0) 7/6
Dallas (.504, 128-126-2) 7/6
Green Bay (.504, 128-126-2) 8/6
Carolina (.502, 128-127-1) 7/6
Los Angeles Chargers (.502, 127-126-3) 8/5
Miami (.500, 127-127-2) 8/7
Baltimore (.496, 125-127-4) 7/5
Detroit (.496, 125-127-4) 8/6
Pittsburgh (.496, 126-128-2) 7/7
New Orleans (.488, 125-131-0 7/6
Cleveland (.484, 123-131-2) 8/5
Buffalo (.480, 122-132-2) 7/5
Seattle (.479, 121-132-3) 7/5
Philadelphia (.477, 121-133-2) 6/5
Cincinnati (.473, 119-133-4) 7/5
Los Angeles Rams .473, 120-134-2) 7/6
New England (.473, 120-134-2) 6/5
New York Giants (.473, 120-134-2) 7/6
New York Jets (.473, 120-134-2) 6/5
Washington (.469, 119-135-2) 7/6

COLLECTING THOSE FREQUENT FLYER MILES: All together, teams will travel approximately 632,752 miles during the 2019 season.

The teams in the NFC West (120,670) combine to have the highest total miles traveled of all divisions. The remaining division totals are the AFC West (107,122), NFC South (84,358), AFC South (75,244), AFC North (73,568), NFC North (67,552), NFC East (53,712) and AFC East (50,526).

Seven teams – Oakland (40,188), the Los Angeles Rams 36,186), Seattle (33,216), the Los Angeles Chargers (32,892), San Francisco (30,210), Tampa Bay (27,670) and Jacksonville (25,336) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

The London Games 2019 schedule begins with the first two NFL games to be staged at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, followed by two at Wembley Stadium, bringing the total number of games played in London since 2007 to 28.

Oakland will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday, October 6 in the inaugural NFL game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the first purpose-built NFL stadium outside of the United States. One week later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be at home against the Carolina Panthers, playing their first game in London.

After a two-week break, the action moves to Wembley Stadium, where the Los Angeles Rams, the defending NFC champions, will host Cincinnati on October 27. The following week, Jacksonville will stage their seventh annual home game in London, taking on another first-time visitor as they take on AFC South Rival Houston.

Below is a list of the total estimated round-trip distance in miles for each team in 2019. Please return your trays to the upright position and thank you for flying NFL Airlines.

TEAM – MILES TO TRAVEL
Oakland – 40,188
Los Angeles Rams – 36,186
Seattle – 33,216
Los Angeles Chargers – 32,892
San Francisco – 30,210
Tampa Bay – 27,670
Jacksonville – 25,336
Carolina – 24,352
Houston – 23,512
Cincinnati – 22,470
Arizona – 21,058
Dallas – 20,922
Miami – 20,554
Chicago – 18,684
Baltimore – 18,072
Pittsburgh – 17,530
Detroit – 17,444
Kansas City – 17,044
Denver – 16,998
New Orleans – 16,712
Green Bay – 16,222
ATLANTA – 15,624
Cleveland – 15,496
Minnesota 15,202
Indianapolis 13,822
Tennessee 12,574
Philadelphia 12,374
New England 11,960
Washington 11,170
Buffalo – 10,158
New York Giants – 9,246
New York Jets – 7,854

OTHER KICKOFF WEEKEND NOTES: Kickoff Weekend began Thursday night in prime-time on NBC when two of the NFL’s oldest franchises renew one of the richest rivalries in sports, as the Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field to begin the league’s 100th season.

Below is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff streaks:

The Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots open their season at home against Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football. The Patriots have won nine of their past 10 home openers on Kickoff Weekend.

• Denver, who begins the season by visiting Oakland on Monday Night Football, have posted a .672 winning percentage (39-19-1) on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the league. Denver has won its past seven Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

• The defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, who travel to Jacksonville to face off against the Jaguars in Week 1, have won their last four Kickoff Weekend games, tied for the league’s second-longest active streak.

• Dak Prescott and the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys host Eli Manning and the New York Giants in a division showdown on Kickoff Weekend. Dallas and New York face each other on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the last five years. With a winning percentage of .655 (38-20-1), the Cowboys own the best Kickoff Weekend winning percentage in the NFC.

• Seattle, who returned to the playoffs in 2018, hosts Cincinnati on Kickoff Weekend. The Seahawks have won 10 consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the league.

• Washington faces NFC East rival Philadelphia on the road in the City of Brotherly Love to start 2019. Washington has won its past three road openers, the longest active streak in the league.

HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 16-8 (.667) on Kickoff Weekend and his 16 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and Kansas City’s ANDY REID (12-8, .600) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games…Reid has won four consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches. Dough Pederson (3-0) of the Eagles and Sean McVay (2-0) of the Rams are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend…Six head coaches – Denver’s Vic Fangio, Miami’s Brian Flores, Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury, Cleveland’s Freddie Kitchens, Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor – make their Kickoff Weekend debuts in 2019.

HOPE DOES SPRING ETERNAL: New teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and young players making their mark all combined to help shape the story of the 2018 season.

Again, Week 17 came right down to the wire as three playoff spots and three division titles – the AFC North, AFC South and AFC West – were decided on the last day of the season. The excitement of Week 17 was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. Every team enters the 2019 season with a trip to Miami and Super Bowl LIV in mind and below are a few reasons why.

• Two of the eight divisions in 2018 were won by a team that finished in last place in the division the previous season – Houston (AFC South) and Chicago (NFC North). In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, two teams have gone “worst to first” en route to a Super Bowl victory — the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2009 New Orleans Saints.

• Since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Seven teams that missed the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore (10-6), Chicago (12-4), Dallas (10-6), Houston (11-5), Indianapolis (10-6), the Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) and Seattle (10-6) – accomplished the feat in 2018.

THE TEAMS SINCE 1990 TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS A SEASON AFTER FAILING TO QUALIFY
SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (ATLANTA, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (ATLANTA, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (ATLANTA, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (ATLANTA, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 – 6 (AATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

• The New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl title in 2018 and begin their quest to repeat as champions as the race to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium for Super Bowl LIV kicks off. Only eight teams have repeated as champions since the first Super Bowl after the 1966 season, with the 2004 Patriots (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX) being the last team to accomplish the feat.

• Eight teams enter the 2019 season with a new head coach – Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, Zac Taylor in Cincinnati, Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland, Vic Fangio in Denver, Matt Lafleur in Green Bay, Brian Flores in Miami, Adam Gase with the New York Jets and Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay.

• Four rookie head coaches have led their teams to the playoffs over the last two seasons: Matt Nagy (Chicago) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis) in 2018 and Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) and Sean McDermott (Buffalo) in 2017.

• Three quarterbacks – Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (Number 1 overall, Arizona), Duke’s Daniel Jones (Number 6, New York Giants) and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (Number 15, Washington) – were selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

At least one rookie quarterback has started in Week 1 in 11 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

• Several notable players were on the move during the off-season, including quarterbacks Joe Flacco (Denver) and Nick Foles (Jacksonville); running backs Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets), Mark Ingram (Baltimore) and Frank Gore (Buffalo); wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (Cleveland), Antonio Brown (Oakland) and Golden Tate (New York Giants); tight end Jared Cook (New Orleans); tackle Trent Brown (Oakland); guard Rodger Saffold (Tennessee); center Mitch Morse (Buffalo); defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah (Seattle), Frank Clark (Kansas City), Trey Flowers (Detroit) and Cameron Wake (Tennessee); defensive tackles Malik Jackson (Philadelphia) and Gerald McCoy (Carolina); linebackers Dee Ford (San Francisco), Clay Matthews (Los Angeles Rams), C.J. Mosley (New York Jets) and Terrell Suggs (Arizona); cornerbacks Robert Alford (Arizona), Steven Nelson (Pittsburgh) and Bradley Roby (Houston) and safeties Landon Collins (Washington), Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City), Earl Thomas (Baltimore) and Eric Weddle (Los Aneles Rams).

WORST TO FIRST: Competitive balance, one of the hallmarks of the NFL, gives fans hope entering each season. For the 15th time in the past 16 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst to first,” 25 of them (52 percent) have done so in the past 16 years (2003-18), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

After finishing in last place in the division in 2017, the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) each turned it around to win their respective divisions last season. The Bears finished with a 12-4 record and an NFC North title after winning nine of their final 10 games and posting the franchise’s best home record (7-1) since the 2005 season. The AFC South champion Texans set a league record for the most consecutive wins following an 0-3 start, rattling off nine straight victories. Houston became the first team to begin a season 0-3 and win a division title since the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS TO GO “WORST TO FIRST” SINCE 2003
SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3 8-8)*
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago 11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
2016 – Dallas (4-12, 13-3)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6, 3-13)
2017 – Philadelphia (13-3, 7-9)**
2018 – Chicago (13-3, 5-11)
2018 – Houston (11-5, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL TEAMS

TEAM: W-L-T, PCT.; W-L (CURRENT)
Denver: 39-19-1, .672; 7-4 (W-7)
Dallas: 38-20-1, .655; 17-5 (L-1)
Green Bay: 56-39-3, .589; 5-6 (W-4)
Minnesota: 33-24-1, .579; 5-3 (W-3)
Chicago: 54-40 5 .574; 9-6 (L-5)
New York Giants: 50-39-5, .562; 4-5 L-2
New England: 33-26-0, .559; 10-3 (W-1)
Miami: 29-23-1, .558; 11-5 (W-2)
Detroit: 48-39 2, .552; 10-4 (L-1)
Pittsburgh: 43-36-5, .544; 8-3 T-1)
Los Angeles Chargers: 32-27-0, .542; 6-6 (L-3)
Kansas City: 32-27-0, .542; 7-4 (W-4)
Jacksonville: 13-11-0, .542; 6-5 (W-2)
San Francisco: 37-31-1, .544; 6-3 (L-2)
Houston: 9-8-0, .529; 5-3 (L-2)
ATLANTA: 28-25-0, .528; 5-3 (L-1)
Baltimore: 12-11-0, .522; 5-4 (W-3)
Los Angeles Rams: 42-39-0, .519; 5-6 (W-2)
Tennessee: 30-29-0, .508; 4-3 (L-3)
Indianapolis: 33-33-0 .500; 8-8 (L-5)
Washington: 41-42-4, .494 6-5 (W-1)
New York Jets: 28-31 0, .475; 5-5 (W-1)
Cincinnati: 24-27-0, .471; 4-4 (W-1)
Oakland 27-32-0, .458; 5-6 (L-1)
Philadelphia: 38-46-1, .452; 5-9 (W-3)
Cleveland: 27-38-1, .417; 5-13 (T-1)
Tampa Bay: 18-25-0, .419; 3-5 (W-3)
Carolina: 10-14-0, .417; 3-5 (W-2)
Arizona: 40-56-2, .417; 6-7 (L-3)
Buffalo: 24-35-0, .407; 6-5 (L-1)
Seattle: 16-27-0, .372; 38 (L-2)
New Orleans: 17-35-0, .327; 36 (L-5)

OPENING-GAME RECORDS OF NFL HEAD COACHES
COACH, TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia (3-0, 1.000)
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams (2-0, 1.000)
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota (4-1, .800)
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville (3-1, .750)
John Harbaugh Baltimore (8-3, .727)
Bill Belichick New England (16-8, .667)
Adam Gase, New York Jets (2-1, .667)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (7-4-1, .625)
Andy Reid, Kansas City (12-8, .600)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (7-6, .538)
Jason Garrett, Dallas (4-4, .500)
Sean McDermott, Buffalo (1-1, .500)
Dan Quinn, Atlanta (2-2, .500)
Ron Rivera, Carolina (4-4, .500)
Sean Payton, New Orleans 5-7 .417)
Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay (2-3, .400)
Bill O’Brien, Houston (2-3, .400)
Jon Gruden, Oakland (4-8, .333)
Jay Gruden, Washington (1-4, .200)
Matt Nagy, Chicago (0-1, .000)
Matt Patricia, Detroit (0-1, .000)
Frank Reich, Indianapolis (0-1, .000)
Mike Vrabel, Tennessee (0-1, .000)
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco (0-2, .000)
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers (0-2, .000)
Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (0-3, .000)
Vic Fangio, Denver (0-0, .000)
Brian Flores, Miami (0-0, .000)
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona (0-0, .000)
Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland (0-0, .000)
Matt LaFleur, Green Bay (0-0, .000)
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati (0-0, .000)

GET OFF TO A STRONG START: Getting off to a strong start is important. Over the past 10 years, seven teams – Denver, New England, Baltimore, Green Bay, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Dallas – have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those seven clubs have combined for 44 playoff berths and 10 Super Bowl appearances – including six Super Bowl championships – during that span.

TEAMS WITH THE BEST OPENING-MONTH RECORDS OVER PAST 10 YEARS (2009-18)
TEAM W-L-T, PCT. (PLAYOFF BERTHS-SUPER BOWL BERTHS-SUPER BOWL WINS)
Denver: 23-9-0, .719 (5-2-1)
New England: 24-10-0, .706 (10-5-3)
Baltimore: 23-11-0, .676 (6-1-1)
Green Bay: 22-11-1, .662 (8-1-1)
ATLANTA: 21-13-0, .618 (5-1-0)
Cincinnati: 21-13-0, .618 (6-0-0)
Dallas: 20-13-0, .606 (4-0-0)

In 2018, the four teams to appear on Championship Weekend — Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams, New England and New Orleans — began with a combined 13-3 record during the first month of the season.

Since this is the opening weekend, we’re going to make every game this weekend DRILL WORTHY! (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

Week one got underway in the Windy City as Green Bay held off the Monsters of the Midway, beating their hated NFC North rivals from the Land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst 10-3 Thursday night and will conclude on Monday night with two Monday night games. As far as last year’s numbers, we were 152-112. Not bad. That was last year, thought. This is a new season. Having said all that, here are Sunday and Monday week one picks!

ATLANTA (7-9) at Minnesota (8-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of teams that just missed the playoffs last year open Sunday’s action in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons travel to the Twin Cities for an early afternoon date with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota holds a 18-10 lead in the series and the Vikings have outscored Atlanta 657-461. They last met in the Big Peach in 2017 and the Vikings have won the last three meetings and came away with a 14-9 win over the Falcons at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Atlanta’s last win over the Purple Gang? 2011 in the Big Peach, as the Falcons were 24-14 winners in the old Georgia Dome. The Vikings are favored by 3 1/2 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the over/under is 47. Both numbers are reasonable but the Vikings best be on upset alert in the Twin Cities. Atlanta wins this one on the road and covers the 4.

Los Angeles Rams (13-3) at Carolina (7-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. The defending NFC champs travel to the Tar Heel State for a meeting with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Carolina leads the series 12-8 and have outscored the Rams 405-402 (which includes games that were played when the Rams were in St. Louis from 1995-2015). Carolina has won the last two meetings, with the Panthers coming away 13-10 winners in Los Angeles in 2016, while Los Angeles’ last win over the Panthers came in 2010 in St. Louis by a final of 20-10. The Rams are a 1 1/2-point road favorite in the Tar Heel State and the over/under’s 49 1/2. Rams take the win in the Tar Heel State and covers the 1 1/2.

Tennessee (9-7) at Cleveland (7-8-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Marcus Mariota and the Titans travel to the shores of Lake Erie to take a vastly-improved Cleveland Browns team in the Buckeye State. sIncluding games that were played when the Titans were in Houston and they were known as the Oilers, Cleveland leads the series 35-30 and the Browns have outscored Tennessee 1,287-1,266. The two clubs split their last four meetings, each taking wins in their home parks and on the road. The Titans needed overtime along the shores of Lake Erie to take a 12-9 win in 2017, while Cleveland’s last win also came in the Buckeye State by a final of 28-14 in 2015. The odds makers in Vegas like the Browns as a 5 1/2-point favorite and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Browns may not cover but they take the win at home.

Kansas City (12-4) at Jacksonville (5-11), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Kansas City, the defending AFC West champs, travel to the Sunshine State for an early afternoon contest with the Jacksonville Jaguars in north Florida. The series is even with each team taking six wins and the Chiefs have outscored Jacksonville 270-237. The Chiefs have won the last four meetings in the series and came away with a 30-14 win at Arrowhead last year. Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in 2009 in north Florida by a final of 24-21.

The week five meeting in the Show-Me State did not go well for the Jaguars as Kansas City held a 20-0 lead at the half but the Jaguars managed to out score Kansas City 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Kansas City out-rushed Jacksonville 126-101 with Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt leading the way with 87 yards and a rushing TD. Mahomes threw for 313 yards but was picked off twice and sacked once, while Bortles threw for 430 yards and a TD toss to T.J. Yeldon, while being sacked five times and throwing four interceptions. Jacksonville was 7 of 16 on third down (they were 3 of 5 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:17, while the Chiefs ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 32:43, going 4 of 12 on third down tries.

Kansas City covered the 3-point spread, winning by 16 at Arrowhead but neither team reached the 48 1/2 over/under, tallying only 44 points. The Chiefs are favored again, this time by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. Jacksonville will make things interesting in the Sunshine State but the Chiefs prevail on the road with the win, although expect Jacksonville to make it closer than 3 1/2.

Baltimore (10-6) at Miami (7-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. The Ravens, coming off an appearnce in the AFC Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Chargers, make the 1,108-mile trip down I-95 to take on the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Ravens lead the series, 7-6 and Baltimore has outscored Miami 276-203. The Ravens won the last two contests, shutting out Miami 40-0 in Charm City in 2017, while Miami’s last win in the series came in the Sunshine State in 2015 by a final of 15-13. Baltimore’s favored by 6 1/2 on South Beach and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Dolphins may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take care of business in the Sunshine State with the win.

Buffalo (6-10) at New York Jets (4-12), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFC East rivals meet in upstate New Jersey as the Bills and Jets, looking to improve on dismal seasons meet at Met Life Stadium. Buffalo leads the Empire State series 61-55 and the Bills have outscored GangGreen 2,436-2,379, which includes contests that were played when the Jets known as Titans prior to 1963 and the teams played their home contests at old War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo and Shea Stadium in New York.

The Bills and Jets split the two meetings last year, each taking road AFC East wins. They met along the Jersey shores in week 10 and the Bills circled the wagons at Met Life Stadium in mid-November, leaving the Meadowlands with a 41-10 win. Buffalo led 31-3 at the half and never looked back, holding GangGreen to an Isaiah Crowell rushing TD in the second half. LeSean McCoy rushed for 113 yards and a pair of TDs for the Bills as Buffalo out-rushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 212-83 while Matt Barkley threw for 232 yards and a pair of TDs (Barkley was sacked once but did not throw an interception). Josh McCown threw for 135 yards for GangGreen with three sacks and a pair of interceptions in the home loss. Buffalo was 8 for 16 on third down (they were perfect in their only fourth down try) and kept the ball for 39:22, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were dismal on third down tries at Met Life Stadium, going 1 for 12 (they were 2 for 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 20:38.

GangGreen would get revenge along the shores of Lake Erie in week 14 (temperature in the week 10 contest? A balmy 46 degrees with a 41 wind chill; in the week 14 contest in upstate New York? 31 degrees with a 22 wind chill) and escaped with a 27-23 win at New Era Stadium. Buffalo led 20-13 at the end of the third quarter (the Bills led 17-13 at the half) before GangGreen would take the lead for keeps with 77 seconds left in the contest when Elijah McGuire scored on a one-yard run. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would hold off a late Buffalo rally and leave upstate New York with the win. Buffalo again out-rushed GangGreen, tallying 176 yards in the contest (Bills QB Josh Allen led all rushers with 101 yards), while holding the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to 78. Allen threw for 206 yards but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Sam Darnold threw for 170 and a TD with an interception. New York was 6 for 13 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:13, while the Bills ruled the clock again, keeping the ball for 33:47, going 7 of 14 on third down tries.

In the week 10 contest along the Jersey shore, GangGreen was favored by 7 1/2 and the Bills easily covered the spread, winning by 31 and both clubs took care of the 37 over/under, scoring 51 points. As for the week 14 affair in upstate New York? While the Jets were winners by 3 points, they barely missed the 3 1/2-point spread but both teams covered the 38 1/2 over/under, tallying 50 points. GangGreen’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. While this one is not exactly the best game to watch this week, it will at least be entertaining. GangGreen covers the 3 in Jersey and takes the win at Met Life.

Washington (7-9) at Philadelphia (9-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in the City of Brotherly Love as the Redskins take the 129-mile trip up I-95 to take on Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington leads the series 85-77-5 (which includes games that were played in Boston when the Redskins were known as the Braves) and the Eagles have outscored Washington 3,518- 3,308. That’s the good news for Redskins fans. The bad news? The Eagles have won the last four contests that were played in the series, including sweeping last year’s series (Washington’s last win came in the City of Brotherly Love in 2016 by a final of 27-22).

Meeting number one… Philadelphia in week 13. The Eagles, fresh off their Super Bowl win, led Washington 14-13 at the break at Lincoln Financial Field, then floored the gas in the final quarter, scoring 14 points unchallenged to take a 28-13 win. Philadelphia out-rushed Washington 130-104 and Carson Wentz threw for 306 yards with a pair of TDs, while Mark Sanchez threw for 100 yards with a pair of sacks (each was picked off once). Philadelphia was 7 of 13 on third down and ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 39:19, while Washington kept the pigskin for 20:41 and went 2 for 10 on third down tries.

The Eagles made it a sweep in the season finale at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, putting a nail in Washington’s playoff hopes and scored all 24 of their points unchallenged to shut out the Redskins 24-0. Philadelphia led 10-0 at the intermission and never looked back, using a pair of Nick Foles TD tosses to take the win that would put them back into post-season play. The Eagles held Washington to 21 yards of rushing, while tallying 129 of their own and kept Washington in check on the road. Philadelphia was 8 of 14 on third down (they were successful in their only fourth down try) and kept the ball for 43:19 to Washington’s 16:41, with the Redskins going a dismal 0 for 9 on third down, 2 for 4 on fourth down.

In the week 13 Monday night contest, Philadelphia covered the 6 1/2-point spread, winning by 15 but both clubs missed the 44 over/under by a field goal. The Eagles also covered the spread in the season finale at Landover (6 1/2), winning by 24 but neither club covered the 42 over/under. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Eagles as a 10-point favorite and the over/under is 44. The 44 makes sense. The 10 is a bit steep. Washington fans will either be singing “Hail to the Redskins!” or “Hell, it’s the Redskins!” Eagles fans like the second better. Washington makes it closer than 10 but Eagles win in the City of Brotherly Love.

Indianapolis (10-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (12-4), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. Without Andrew Luck under center, the Indianapolis Colts travel to the West Coast to square off against Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers at Stub Hub Centre. Including contest that were played in Baltimore and San Diego, the Chargers lead the series 16-10 and the Bolts have outscored Indianapolis 616-449. Indy won the last meeting in the series, coming away 26-22 winners in the Hoosier State in 2016, while the Chargers’ last win came in San Diego in 2013 by a final of 19-9. The Bolts are a 6 1/2 point favorite on the Left Coast with a 44 1/2 over/under. Both teams went to post-season last year and both look to go back, either as division winners or wild card teams. Chargers cover the 6 1/2 and win at home at Stub Hub.

Cincinnati (6-10) at Seattle (10-6), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. It’s chili vs. Salmon as Andy Dalton and Cincinnati make their way to the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks for a late-afternoon contest in the Pacific Northwest for a meeting with Russell Wilson and Seattle. The Bengals hold a 10-9 lead in the series and they have outscored Seattle 415-374. Cincinnati has won the last two meetings in the series, with the Bengals taking a 27-24 overtime win along the banks of the Ohio River in 2015, while Seattle’s last victory was in 2007 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks by a final of 24-21.

Seattle’s favored by 9 1/2 with a 44 4/2 over/under. Cincinnati will keep the Seahawks in check but Seattle prevails in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks to take the win.

Detroit (6-10) at Arizona (3-13), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of struggling teams from the 2018 campaign meet in the desert as Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions pay a visit to Glendale to face off against number one draft pick Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. Including games that were played in Chicago and St. Louis, when the Cardinals called those cities home and the Lions were in Portsmouth and known as the Spartans, Detroit leads the 33-28 and they have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 1,199-1,088. Detroit has won the last two meetings, including coming away 17-3 winners last year in the desert (Arizona’s last win came in the Motor City in 2015, as the Cardinals left Detroit with a 42-17 win).

After a scoreless first quarter in their week 14 affair at State Farm Stadium, Matt Prater gave the Lions a 3-0 lead that they would take with them to the intermission. After a Darius Slay interception for a TD, Detroit took a 10-0 lead with them to the fourth quarter before the Desert Angry Birds would dent the scoreboard on a Zane Gonzalez field goal, Zach Zenner closed out the scoring with a 1-yard TD run with 4:05 left in the contest.

The Lions out-rushed Arizona 122-61 and Stafford threw for 101 without an interception (he was sacked once), while Josh Rosen threw for 240 yards with three sacks and an interception. Detroit was 4 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 28:16, while the Desert Angry Birds ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 31:44, while going 6 of 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In the week fourteen contest in the desert, Detroit easily covered the 2 1/2-point spread, winning by 14 but the 40 1/2 over/under was untouched as both teams combined for only 20 points. In this meeting in the desert, the Lions are favored by 3 with a 46 1/2 over/under. We wouldn’t blame you one bit if you took a pass on this one and watched that “Mythbusters” marathon on Discovery (there’s nothing more exciting than seeing Buster get blown up!). The Desert Angry Birds prevail in Glendale and cover the 3.

New York Giants (5-11) at Dallas (10-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Eli vs. Dak. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in the Lone Star State as the Cowboys host the Giants at Jerry World (aka AT&T Stadium). Dallas will have another weapon in their quiver as RB Ezekiel Elliott finally came to terms with the team and came back to Dallas. The Cowboys lead the series 66-45-2 (which includes contests that were played at Yankee Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, the Yale Bowl, Cowboys Stadium and Giants Stadium) and the Cowboys have outscored the Giants 2,554-2,180. Dallas has won the last four meetings in the series with their NFC East rivals (New York’s last win came in the Meadowlands in 2016 by a final of 10-6).

They met in the Lone Star State in week two and the Cowboys came away 20-13 winners on a Sunday night. Dallas led 10-0 at the half but the Giants would make it closer than Cowboys fans wanted as Aldrick Rosas connected on a 38-yard field goal with 11 seconds left. The Giants then tried an onside kick in the hopes of getting the ball back to no avail as Dallas would recover the ball and run out the clock. Dallas out-rushed the Giants 138-35, with Elliot leading all rushers with 78 yards and a rushing TD, while Prescott threw for 160 yards (Manning threw for 279 yards with six sacks; both Manning and Prescott threw a TD pass without an interception). The Giants were 8 of 17 on third down tries (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:12, while the Cowboys were 3 for 10 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 27:48.

They would meet in the Meadowlands in week 17 and while the second contest was closer, the result was the same… Dallas coming out victors, this time rallying to come away 36-35 winners at Met Life Stadium. Dallas led 14-7 at the intermission in upstate New Jersey but saw that lead get away from them as the Giants would lead 35-28 with 2:35 left in regulation, thanks in part to a 38-yard field goal by Rosas. That lead would not last very long as Dallas used a 9-play, 70-yard drive that used 83 seconds of clock and sent Giants fans home sad as The Giants seemed to clinch the game when Dallas receiver Cole Beasley was ruled out of the back of the end zone on a Prescott (387 yards, four TDs) pass on fourth-and-15 with 72 seconds left. But a video review showed that Beasley got his knee down in-bounds and the play was changed from an incomplete pass to a 32-yard touchdown. Prescott then threw the go-ahead two-point conversion to rookie receiver Michael Gallup.

The Giants actually out-rushed Dallas 143-51, with Sequan Barkley leading everyone with 109 yards on the ground and a TD, while Manning threw for 301 yards and a pair of TDs (Manning was sacked once and picked off once, while Prescott was sacked four times but did not throw an interception). Dallas was 11 of 17 on third down tries (they were 2 for 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 30:52, while the Giants were 7 of 15 on third down (they went 2 for 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:08.

Dallas covered the 3-point spread in the Sunday night contest in Arlington, winning by 7 and the 33 combined points meant that the 42 over/under was untouched. In the season finale rematch in the Meadowlands, the Giants were favored by 6 1/2 but Dallas would win by only a single point. The two clubs did manage to take care of the 42 1/2 over/under, tallying 71 points in the contest. In this season opener in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. Both numbers sound reasonable and the Giants have kept things close in the last two meetings with their NFC East rivals. Big Blue will do the same but Dallas prevails at home at Jerry World and takes the win at home.

San Francisco (4-12) at Tampa Bay (5-11), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A pair of struggling NFC teams meet on Florida’s Gulf Coast in a late afternoon contest as Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers lead the series 17-6 and they have outscored Tampa Bay 520-356. They met last year in the Sunshine State (San Francisco’s last win over Tampa Bay came in the Sunshine State in 2013 by a final of 33-14) and the Bucs prevailed at home on Florida’s West Coast, coming away 27-9 winners. In the week 12 contest, Tampa Bay led 13-6 at the half before going on in the final 30 minutes of play to outscore the 49ers 14-3. The 49ers out-rushed Tampa Bay 148-108 with San Francisco RB Matt Breida leading the way with 106 yards on the ground. Nick Mullens threw for 221 yards for the 49ers with a TD pass to Dante Pettis but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Jameis Winston threw for 312 yards and a pair of TDs (Winston was sacked once but did not throw an interception).

Third down tries? The 49ers were a somewhat dismal 1 of 8 and kept the ball for 25:51, while the Bucs ruled the clock for 34:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down conversions in the Sunshine State. In the week 12 contest, Tampa Bay covered the 3 1/2-point spread, winning by 18 but the 36 points the two teams scored came nowhere near the 55 over/under. The Bucs are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. Well, if you’re a fan of either team, feel free to watch this one; otherwise, may we suggest the “Mythbusters” special on Discovery? Bucs prevail in the Sunshine State and covers the 1 1/2.

Pittsburgh (9-6-1) at New England (11-5), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. They have 12 Lombardi Trophies between them. Each team has six. The home team wants to make it seven. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers make their way to Foxboro for a Sunday night contest with Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champs at Gillette Stadium. For the Steelers, it’s their chance to knock the Pats from their pedestal. As for the Patriots? They want to be king of the NFL mountain and they added another piece to the puzzle by signing WR Antonio Brown after the Raiders cut him loose. Brown will not play this week but will suit up when the Pats head to Miami next week.

Pittsburgh leads the series 15-12 and they have outscored New England 621-584. The two clubs have met the last four seasons and the Steelers avenged a controversial 27-24 loss at home in 2017 to take a 17-10 win at Heinz Field.

The week 15 late afternoon contest saw the Steelers take a 14-7 lead with them to the locker room at the half as both Braby and Roethlisberger threw TDs passes in the first quarter. Rothelisberger would then add a second TD toss in the second quarter as he and WR Antonio Brown connected on a toss that would give them the lead for good with 12:01 left before the break. Chris Boswell and Stephen Gostkowski each traded field goals in the final 30 minutes of play to close out the scoring at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh outrushed New England 158-96 and Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels led all rushers with 142 yards, while Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions (Brady threw for 279 yards with a TD, sack and interception). Pittsburgh was 4 of 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:49, while the Patriots were 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:11.

Pittsburgh covered the 2 1/2-point spread with the seven-point win at Heinz Field but the 52 over/under was intact, as both clubs merged for 27 points. This time, Brady and the Patriots are favored by 5 1/2 in Foxboro and the over/under’s 49. There is a chance these two could meet in the AFC championship game either at Heinz Field or Gillette Stadium come January. Brady and the Pats raise the championship banner Sunday night and takes the win in upstate Massachusetts, even though the Steelers will make this one closer than the 5 1/2.

Houston (11-5) at New Orleans (13-3), 7:10 p.m. Monday night on ESPN. Separated by 348 miles along I-10, J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans travel to the Big Easy for the first of two Monday night contest as the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees play host.

The series is tied at 2-2 and the Texans have outscored New Orleans 90-87. Houston won the last meeting, taking a 24-6 win in 2015 in the Lone Star State, while New Orleans’ last win in the series came in 2011 in the Big Easy by a final of 40-33. On Monday night, the Texans are 5-8 (they won their lone meeting last season in prime-time), while the Saints are 20-22 but won their two Monday night contests last year. New Orleans is favored by 7 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 53. This could wind up be a somewhat entertaining Monday night contest. Houston pulls the upset in the Big Easy and leaves New Orleans with the win.

Denver (6-10) at Oakland (4-12), 10:20 p.m. Monday night on ESPN. Forget the records. These two AFC West teams don’t like each. Granted, the hate is not as bad as the Raiders and Chiefs but it exists, like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Denver and Oakland close out week one’s action on the Eastern side of San Francisco Bay in the second Monday night contest of the evening. While things were somewhat calm in Denver, the same could not be said in Oakland as Raiders management first suspended newly-signed WR Antonio Brown, then reinstated him, fined him and eventually gave him his walking papers, allowing New England to grab him.

The Silver and Black lead the series 63-52-2 and the Raiders have outscored their AFC West rivals 2,489-2,394 (which includes contests that took place in Los Angeles from 1982-1994). They split last season’s contests, each taking wins in their home facility.

Denver trailed 12-0 at the break at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in their week two contest, then erased that deficit and came away with the 20-19 come-from-behind win in that first meeting. Trailing 19-17 with 1:58 left in regulation, the Broncos used a 10-play, 62-yard drive that consumed 1:52 of clock and sent Denver fans home happy campers as Brian McManus connected on a 36-yard field goal. McManus, who kicked a 39-yarder and QB Case Keenum (222 yards, TD, sack, interception), running for a score from a yard out, pulled Denver to within one to make the contest close and eventually give Denver the win. Denver outrushed Oakland 168-92 with Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay leading the way with 107 yards, becoming the first undrafted rookie in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first two career games. Derek Carr threw for 288 yards with a TD and a sack, while Marshawn Lynch led Oakland with 65 yards and a rushing TD. Oakland was 3 of 10 on third down (0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:56, while the Broncos kept the pigskin for 27:04, while going 8 of 16 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Oakland would get their revenge on the Eastern side of San Francisco Bay in week 16 on Christmas Eve, as they would put lumps of coal and switches in Denver’s stocking, taking a 27-14 Monday night win at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Although the Silver and Black led 17-0 at the half, Denver managed to make the contest close in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Raiders 14-10 in that span. Dwayne Harris opened the scoring for the Raiders, returning a punt 99 yards to take the lead and the Raiders would never look back from that. Oakland outrushed Denver in the second contest 114-100, with Raiders RB Doug Martin leading the way with 107 yards and a TD. Carr threw for 167 yards but did not throw an interception, while Keenum threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs and a pair of interceptions (both Keenum and Carr were sacked once). Oakland was 5 of 13 on third down and held on to the ball for 30:08, while the Broncos were 6 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:52.

In the week two contest, while Denver was favored by 6, they only came away winning by one and both teams missed the 45 over/under, tallying 39 points. In the Christmas Eve week 16 affair, Oakland was the 2 1/2-point underdog but covered the spread, winnning by 13 but once again, both teams barely missed the over/under of 44 with 41 points.

Denver is 32-40-1 on Monday night and the Broncos went 0 for 2 in their meetings last year under the lights, while the Raiders are 39-29-1, spliting their two meetings in 2018. Oakland’s favored by 2 1/2 in the Monday nightcap on the West Coast and the over/under’s 42 1/2. With all the distractions the Raiders have had during the pre-season with Antonio Brown, it may be hard for them to focus on football and that will be a good thing for Broncos fans. Denver pulls the upset and covers the 2 1/2.

And there were two.

The Los Angeles Rams.

The New England Patriots.

The last two in the 2018 National Football League’s version of “Survivor.” While the other 30 teams are at home after having their torches put out, they are the last two standing. They’ve out-witted the other 30 teams, they’ve outlasted the other 30. Sunday will be a chance to see who can out-survive the other.

Both the Rams and Patriots started their seasons like everyone else, with OTAs, the draft, mini-camp, preseason and a 17-week schedule where they both played 16 games. At the end of the day in Atlanta, one team will be holding the Lombardi Trophy again, sort of like Raftiki holding baby Simba in “The Lion King.” The other team? They will be picked apart like a Thanksgiving Turkey, second-guessed by everyone that can draw a breath.

This Sunday is not just any Sunday. This is Super Bowl Sunday. This is the Sunday that some of these players have been dreaming about since they were kids, playing pretend football in the backyard and hoping that their time will come. Their time is here. It’s the final game on the 2018 NFL schedule and when the clock strikes :00, the confetti flies around and the on-field interviews are taking place, it will come to an end. No more regular season football until September 5th. The winner? They get to take home the Lombardi Trophy and each player will take home $118,000, which comes out to $29,500 a quarter and they get to pick last in the upcoming draft. As for the losing team? No trophy, they get to pick 31st and each player will get $59,000 (or $14,750 per quarter).

What else is at stake, you ask?

With a New England victory…
•The Patriots will have captured their sixth Super Bowl championship, tied with Pittsburgh (six) for most in NFL history.
•New England will have won its 37th postseason game, surpassing Pittsburgh (36) for the most all-time.
•Head coach Bill Belichick joins George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches ever to win six NFL championships.
•Quarterback Tom Brady has now won six Super Bowls, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley (five) for the most of any player. His Rams counterpart Jared Goff was 7 years old when Brady won his first Lombardi.

With a Los Angeles win…
•The Rams will celebrate the second Super Bowl victory in the history of their franchise (SB XXXIV) and their first in Los Angeles.
•At age 33, head coach Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to win the Super Bowl. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held the previous mark at age 36.
•Quarterback Jared Goff becomes the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory within his first three seasons.

Belichick and Brady will be making their ninth Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won five Super Bowls together, the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 years and 10 days old on Super Bowl Sunday, is the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. In each of the past two seasons under McVay, the Rams have ranked first or second in points per game. His counterpart on the other side of the field? Bill Belichick is 66 and turns 67 in April.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to reach the Super Bowl within his first three seasons. Four quarterbacks (Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and John Elway, Drew Bledsoe and Eli Manning) each reached the Super Bowl in their fourth season.

Brady vs. Goff. Two QBs with a huge age difference led their teams to this point in time. Both clubs won their divisions, both were two seeds in their respective conferences and both won their last games on the road in overtime and both teams beat the top seeds. The bigger picture? Brady won his first Super Bowl the last time the two met in the post season. When Sunday’s game kicks off, Brady will be 42 years old, while Goff is 25 (Goff was seven years old when the Brady-Bilichick duo won their first Lombardi).

The Rams fought their way back against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome and came away with a 26-23 overtime win over Drew Brees and the Saints. Los Angeles trailed 13-10 at the half after the Saints rushed out to a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter as the Saints used a pair of Wil Lutz field goals and a Brees TD pass to TE Garrett Griffin to open the scoring in the contest. Los Angeles shut out the Saints in the second quarter, thanks to a 6-yard TD run by Todd Gurley III and a Greg Zuerlein field goal to tally their first points of the game. New Orleans would push the lead back to 10 with 8:34 left in the third when backup QB Taysom Hill and Brees connected on a 2-yard toss before the Rams would even things up when TE Tyler Higbee and Goff connected with 3:06 left in the third and Zuerlin booted a 24-yard field goal with 5:03 left in the contest.

New Orleans was not going quietly and got the ball back with 5:03 left in regulation and started the drive they thought would give them the win and there was some controversy in that drive when Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Michael Roby-Coleman collided on a pass attempt that many Saints fans and players thought was pass interference but was not called and the pass was ruled incomplete, much to the anger of Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. (Roby-Coleman was eventually fined by the league for the helmet to helmet hit). The Saints had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Lutz with 1:41 left before the Rams stormed back with 15 seconds left in regulation to re-tie the contest and send the contest into the extra period after Brees knelt the ball down. New Orleans would win the toss in the overtime and got the ball first in the overtime and kept the ball for only four plays, getting as close as their own 36-yard line when Brees was picked off by S John Johnson II inside Saints territory. The Rams wasted very little time or distance, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that took 2:12 for them to set up a 57-yard field goal try. After the Saints burned a timeout to ice the kicker, Zeurlein connected on that 57-yard try to send the Rams into the Super Bowl.

The Rams outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Goff threw for 297 yards and a TD with an interception and a sack, while Rams WR Brandon Cooks burned his former team for 107 yards on seven catches. Brees threw for 249 yards with the two TD tosses, while being sacked twice and throwing the interception that ended New Orleans’ hopes of coming to Atlanta. Los Angeles went 6 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints went 6 for 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New England took a 14-0 lead with them to the intermission against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game, only to see the Chiefs rally in the final 15 minutes of play and Brady and the Patriots would need overtime to take the 37-31 win on the road. Rookie RB Sony Michel and WR Phillip Dorsett would open the scoring for New England; Michel scoring on a 1-yard run early in the first quarter and Dorsett catching a 29-yard pass from Brady to take the 14-point lead at the break. Kansas City would respond in the third quarter as Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce connected on a 12-yard TD toss in the third to end New England’s bid for a shutout before Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski would push the lead back to 10 with a 47-yard field goal late in the quarter.

The Chiefs would then go to work in the final quarter of regulation, using a pair of Damien Williams TD runs to eventually take a 21-17 lead with 7:45 left in the contest. That lead would not last long as Michel scored on a 10-yard romp with 3:32 left. Kansas City then responded and took the lead back with 2:03 left when Williams scored from two yards out. The Chiefs’ lead did not last very long as New England’s Rex Burkhead gave his team a 31-28 lead back with 39 seconds left. Kansas City roared back again with 8 seconds left in regulation as Harrison Butker connected on a 39 yard field goal to tie things up at 31-31.

The Butker field goal would be the last time the Chiefs would see the ball as New England would win the coin toss in overtime and played ball control in the extra period, using a 13-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:52 of clock and sent Chiefs fans home in a less than good mood when Burkhead gave his team the win, scoring from two yards out to take the win. Michel rushed for 113 yards with the two TDs as the Patriots outrushed Kansas City 176-41. Brady threw for 348 yards with the TD toss and one interception (he was not sacked), while Mahomes threw for 295 yards with three TDs and four sacks but no interceptions. Kansas City, who saw their hopes dashed when DE Dee Ford lined up in the neutral zone, erasing a potential Brady interception in the final quarter, went 4 for 9 on third down and kept the ball for 20:53, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 43:59 (including the 4:52 in overtime), while going 13 of 19 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

They met in Foxoboro in the 2016 season in week 13 and the Patriots were 26-10 winners at Gillette Stadium. New England scored their first 17 points of the contest uncontested before the Rams rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring New England 10-9. The Rams were held to 36 rushing yards, while New England tallied 133, with LeGarrett Blount leading the way with 88 yards and a rushing TD, while Brady threw for 269 yards without a sack or interception (Goff threw for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and four sacks; both Goff and Brady each had a TD pass). The Rams were a dismal 1 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 22:03, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 37:57, while going 4 of 16 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week 13 contest in Foxboro, the Pats covered the 13 1/2-point spread, winning by 16 but both clubs missed the 44 1/2 over/under as they combined for 36 points.

The Rams and Patriots met once in post-season play and that was in Super Bowl XXXVI, which New England won in the final seconds 20-17 in New Orleans, when the Rams were in St. Louis. That contest was the start of the Brady-Bill Belichick era as the Rams, who were in St. Louis, won the Lombardi Trophy the year before in Atlanta. New England erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit and took a 14-3 lead with them to the break in the Big Easy. The Pats then added an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the third quarter to lead by 14 before the Rams scored a pair of TDs in the fourth, one with Kurt Warner using his legs to score from two yards out, then Warner used his arm, connecting with WR Ricky Proehl with 90 seconds left in regulation. New England would use all of the 90 seconds that was left and made their way down the field, using a 9-play, 53-yard drive that ended with Vinatieri connecting on a 48-yard field goal as time expired. In picking up his first Super Bowl win, Brady threw for 145 yards and a TD with a sack but no interceptions, while Warner threw for 365 yards and the game-tying TD with three sacks and a pair of interceptions. New England outrushed the Rams 133-90 and went 2 for 11 on third down and kept the ball for 26:30 (including the final 90 seconds of the contest), while the Rams were 5 for 13 on third down and kept the ball for 33:30.

Yes, this is the last game of the year. When next Sunday rolls around, most of America will be forced to wait for baseball and watch golf, basketball or those gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sunday. It’s also the last Sunday of “THE DRILL” until September. With that…. (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 58 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

New England, according to the boys and girls in Vegas, are favored by 2 1/2 with a 56 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For the winners, they get to go to Disney World and the Lombardi Trophy. As for the loser? Let’s just say that sports talk shows will be second-guessing them over and over and over until the draft. For the championship week, we went 1-1 and for the season, we are now 150-112. The end is nigh for the 2018 season. No more NFL until pre-season. It’s time to pick a winner, Jimmy, to paraphrase Robert Redford from “The Natural.” Jimmy’s from LA and he’s going with the Rams. We are too. Rams win and cover the 2 1/2.

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Mike Holmgren, Tony Boselli, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (New England), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (New England), 225 (Los Angeles Rams)

Referee: John Parry

Injury Report

New England – New England reports no injuries

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

Weather: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 55 degrees.

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)